x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Messi concern ahead of Abu Dhabi visit

The UAE fans may be denied the chance to see the world's best player as the Ballon d'Or award winner is nursing an ankle injury.

Lionel Messi, centre, is helped from the field against Dynamo Kiev.
Lionel Messi, centre, is helped from the field against Dynamo Kiev.

Tens of thousands of UAE fans may be denied the chance to see the world's best player when Barcelona play in the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi next week. Lionel Messi, the Ballon d'Or winner, was helped from the field with an ankle injury after scoring the winning goal with four minutes remaining to guide Barcelona to a 2-1 victory at Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday night to secure their place in the last 16 of the Champions League. Messi underwent tests yesterday, but is expected to miss tomorrow's derby with Espanyol in the Primera Liga. Both his club and fans in the UAE are hoping he will recover to take part in next week's Club World Cup semi-final in the capital on Wednesday night at Zayed Sports City, with Pep Guariola's men expected to contest the final three days later at the same stadium.

The Argentine was also injured on the eve of Barca's last appearance in the event in 2006, when they lost to the Brazilian side Internacional 1-0 in the final. Messi suffered a number of strong challenges from Kiev on Wednesday, prompting Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes to say: "Players like Leo should be protected better." Messi had been looking forward to helping the Catalans try to win the competition for the first time in the club's history. "It's always good to get to know new places and it's also the first time the competition has been held outside Japan for many years. It would be good if Barcelona could become the first champions in this new phase in its history," he told Fifa's official website. "It's important for us to win it and keep picking up trophies. It's one title the club have never won and it's one title that's eluded most of the players at Barca. It's also the last competition of what's been a historic 2009 and we want to end the year in style." @Email:akhan@thenational.ae