Lionel Messi’s absence is a big blow for Barcelona and levels the playing field for Inter in their Champions League clash, according to captain Mauro Icardi.
Barca will be without five-time Ballon d’Or winner and superstar Messi for Wednesday’s fixture at Camp Nou after he broke his arm in last week’s 4-2 victory against Sevilla in LaLiga.
Inter and Barca have won their opening two games heading into matchday three and Icardi believes the Serie A side can go toe-to-toe with the LaLiga champions in the absence of Messi.
“It’s a pity Messi can’t be there because it’s nice to play against great footballers like him, who is one of the best in the world,” Icardi said.
“He’s a big miss and it means we can go head to head [with Leo gone] because we have the qualities needed to take them on.”
Icardi and Inter head to Barcelona full of confidence following their last-gasp derby win over AC Milan on Sunday.
Inter skipper Icardi was the hero thanks to his 92nd-minute header at San Siro, where Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma misjudged Matias Vecino’s cross.
“We had a great September before the international break and we had to win to stay on this path, so we could arrive at Barcelona with this mentality, which is very important for us,” Icardi added.
Icardi also discussed his future, having been linked with Champions League holders Real Madrid and Chelsea.
The 25-year-old Argentina international – who has scored at least 20 league goals in three of the previous four seasons – is out of contract in 2021 with a reported €110 million release clause for foreign clubs.
“There is a lot of talk but I’m happy at Inter, with my present and the future that I can have here,” Icardi said. “When offers come we will evaluate them but I’m very happy to stay.”