Eibar head coach Jose Mendilibar believes Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi doesn’t need to miss any games because he can simply rest while on the pitch.
Before the Catalans’ Champions League clash against Napoli on Tuesday, Quique Setien’s side face Eibar in La Liga on Saturday with question marks over whether Messi will be involved from the start.
Mendilibar is, however, adamant that the Argentine legend doesn’t need to be rested as he’s an expert at only exerting himself when he has to.
“I don’t think [Messi] rests,” Mendilibar said during his pre-match press conference, via Marca .
“This b*stard rests in the game. He knows when he has to participate, when to rest.
“If he was given the day off he would have a worse time watching from the stands and get more tired.”
Mendilibar knows first-hand the damage Messi can do in a short space of time, recalling a previous match involving the 32-year-old where he scored twice as a substitute, despite being sick in the build-up to the encounter.
“Once with Osasuna, we went to play a Copa del Rey game [at the Camp Nou]. In the morning of the game [Messi] was ruled out because he had a problem with his stomach and had fever,” Mendilibar said.
“After eating, he was called up, he was on the bench, we were losing 2-0 and suddenly I see him warming up.
“He came on, scored two goals and we lost 4-0.”
Eibar, 16th in La Liga, are just three points clear of the relegation zone, but Mendilibar believes they are capable of testing Barcelona on their own turf.
“We’ve been watching what they are doing,” he noted. “You see everything they do and it looks like a scary movie.
“We have to be convinced that we can also have something to say. I don’t know if it will be a lot or a bit, but if there is something we do well, it’s putting all the obstacles of the world in front of the opponent.
“We don’t have to be afraid or doubtful.”
A win on Saturday is crucial for the Catalans, who are one point behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid.