Messi suffered a torn internal collateral ligament in his left knee during Barça’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on 26 September that was expected to keep him out of action for up to eight weeks. A return to fitness within that timeframe would allow him to feature when Barça face Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on 21 November.
However, it is a race against time if he is to be included for Argentina’s showdown World Cup qualifiers at home to Brazil on 13 November or away to Colombia four days later.
“Being injured is the worst feeling in the world for a sportsman, but right from the start I accepted that I had an injury and that the only thing to do was to recover from it the best way possible,” Messi told Yahoo Sports on Thursday.
“The most important thing for me is to be at 100 per cent fitness. I am improving every day without setting myself any targets. I have always said that I don’t set myself any dates because it isn’t up to me. As much as I would like to play tomorrow, the doctors wouldn’t let me. When they tell me that I have recovered completely will be the time that I will make my return onto the pitch.”
The inspired form of Neymar has allowed Barcelona to overcome the absence of the four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, and despite a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla, Barca are joint top of La Liga and well on course to qualify for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
However, the scenario is not as rosy at home where Argentina missed their star man badly as they took just one point from their opening two games of World Cup qualifying, losing 2-0 at home to Ecuador before a 0-0 draw at to Paraguay earlier this month.
The South American qualifying campaign is a long slog, but if Argentina lose to Brazil and Colombia next month, the drumbeat for Messi’s immediate return from the Argentina press and supporters will be deafening.