Updated 09:35 AM EDT, Sat, Oct 23, 2021

Lionel Messi Will Likely Suit up for Barca Against Malaga on Saturday

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Lionel Messi abruptly bowed out from Sunday's match against Athletic Bilbao due to leg soreness, but FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has cleared the Argentinian superstar to participate in the club's Thursday practice session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.

The progress shown by the five-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner has made it likely for him to suit up against Malaga in this Saturday's league match at La Rosaleda. Nevertheless, Enrique and company will still re-access Messi's condition during the club's next practice session this Friday evening. Only then will they make a final decision, per AS.

In Barca's win against Athletic Bilbao, Enrique subbed in Arda Turan for Messi at the half. The acclaimed striker had to be brought out for medical evaluation, since he was noticeably favoring his right hamstring. Many feared Messi had torn a tendon. Luckily, the initial set of tests showed it was nothing more than hamstring soreness.

Barca eventually beat Athletic Bilbao that night, to the tune of 6-0. It was Messi who scored first via a penalty kick at the seventh-minute mark of the match. The Basques tried to even the scoring before Neymar netted a goal in the 30th minute.

The Brazilian winger went on to score one more goal, while Ivan Rakitic had one as well. Meanwhile, Luis Suárez scored himself a hat-trick, ESPN reported.

When asked why he decided to take Messi out of the match, Enrique told The Express Tribune that his club was already leading 2-0, and it would have been dangerous and a bit futile to risk playing his star forward.

Barca and the Basques squared off again on Wednesday in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. This time, the match was held at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao. Enrique's squad was without Messi and Luis Suarez, as the latter was serving a previous suspension.

The Basques started out aggressive, but Barca was able to keep up. The Catalan side entered the half-time break with a commanding 2-0 lead. Munir El-Haddadi opened the scoring in the 18th minute, while Neymar scored the second goal six minutes later. Aritz Aduriz made the scoreline 2-1 in the 89th minute, but it wasn't enough to defeat the defending champions.

As for Messi, his right hamstring isn't the only thing bothering him these days. He and his father Jorge are scheduled to stand trial in Barcelona between May 31 and June 3 over allegations of tax evasion.

Sports Illustrated reported that the Argentinian superstar has been accused of not paying over €4 million in taxes to the Spanish government.

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