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Barcelona: Lionel Messi out for two months

Barcelona have said that Lionel Messi "will be out for around seven to eight weeks" with a knee injury; we have the news and consider what options Luis Enrique now has.

Lionel Messi goes down injured on Saturday
Lionel Messi goes down injured on Saturday ©AFP/Getty Images

Lionel Messi is set to miss up to four UEFA Champions League games after suffering a knee injury.

The Barcelona striker went down four minutes into their 2-1 Liga defeat of Las Palmas and was taken off soon after and transferred to hospital. The club then announced: "Messi has a tear in the internal collateral ligament of his left knee. He will be out for around seven to eight weeks."

Barcelona were held 1-1 in their Group E opener at Roma and welcome Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday. Messi is also likely to be missing for the double-header against BATE Borisov and could struggle to return in time for the visit of Roma on 24 November, days after Barcelona go to Real Madrid in the Liga.

Messi's season so far ...

Correspondent's view: Joseph Walker
Seeing any player limp off is never good news for a manager, however for Luis Enrique, Messi's injury could not have come at a worse time.

Already without goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, defenders Thomas Vermaelen and Jordi Alba in addition to long-term absentee Rafinha before facing Las Palmas, Messi's knee problem now leaves Enrique with a huge hole to fill with some big games fast approaching.

Will Ivan Rakitić be pushed forward into the front three?
Will Ivan Rakitić be pushed forward into the front three?©Getty Images

Loyal to the club's 4-3-3 philosophy, it is likely the 45-year-old will use Ivan Rakitić in a further advanced position as he did against Atlético Madrid earlier this season. However the beneficiaries of Messi's misfortune are likely to be Javier Mascherano, who can expect an extended run in the centre of midfield, and young attacking duo Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramírez.

The 20-year-olds both burst onto the scene at the beginning of last season – Munir earning a cap for Spain in the process – and were both given first team squad numbers ahead of this campaign by Enrique. They now have their chance to impress the coach and show that whenever one of the fabled front three of Messi, Neymar or Luis Suárez are not around they are more than capable of filling the void.