​​Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has defended his decision to use star player Lionel Messi off the bench, during their 1-1 draw with​ Real Madrid in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinal on Wednesday, claiming that the striker still had some “discomfort.”

The 31-year-old was brought on just after the hour-mark due to his issues with a thigh injury and Valverde believes it was in the best decision of the club not to risk him, considering they have some high profile fixtures to play in the near future.

“The decisions you make are based on what you think is better for the team and the player. He had discomfort. Today he was better but we thought it was best he enter in the second half. He could be decisive because we know the danger he creates every time he gets the ball,” he said as quoted by ​FourFourTwo.

The defending La Liga champions travel to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday for their league clash, but Valverde is keeping things close to his chest especially when it comes to the participation of their talisman.

“I don’t know. If he’s okay, he’ll play. I hope it’s like that,” he concluded.

Messi has once again been in brilliant form this season, scoring 29 goals in just 28 games and it will be very important for Barcelona to not rush him from injury to ensure that he is at his best during the business end of the campaign.


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