Messi needs a rest – Koeman leaves captain and De Jong out of Kiev trip

Oleh Daniel Lewis 23 November 2020 25
Messi needs a rest – Koeman leaves captain and De Jong out of Kiev trip

Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona's squad for the Champions League meeting with Dynamo Kiev as the forward is in need of a rest, says head coach Ronald Koeman.

Messi is not part of Barca's 19-man travelling party for Tuesday's Group G clash in Kiev while midfielder Frenkie de Jong is another notable absentee, despite being tipped to fill in for injured Gerard Pique at centre-back.

The Argentina international has endured a frustrating campaign for the Catalan giants, scoring only one goal from open play in eight LaLiga outings and yet to lay on an assist.

All three of his goals in the Champions League this term have come via the penalty spot, the 33-year-old failing to find the target from his nine attempts in open play.

After two goalless outings for Argentina last week, Koeman has now taken the decision to give Messi a breather in midweek.

"Leo is not travelling with us, neither is Frenkie," Koeman said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "We felt that both needed a break.

"With nine points so far in the Champions League we are in a comfortable position and have the chance to give them a rest."

Messi was benched for Barca's 5-2 win over Real Betis prior to the international break, which Koeman put down to a minor injury concern, before he came on for the second half to inspire his side to victory.

He was restored to the XI for Saturday's 1-0 loss at Atletico Madrid but tested Jan Oblak only once from his three shots and had just two touches of the ball in the opposition box.

But Koeman is confident Messi, who failed in an attempt to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer in August, will soon rediscover his best form.

"He is still a very important player for us and can continue to give a lot," he said.

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