MADRID (AFP/REUTERS) - Lionel Messi will be out for up to eight weeks after suffering knee ligament damage in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday, the Catalan giants confirmed.
“Tests have confirmed that Leo Messi suffered a torn internal collateral knee ligament. The estimated time out will be seven to eight weeks,” Barcelona said in a statement.
Messi, 28, limped off with a knee injury after just nine minutes of Barcelona's La Liga clash with Las Palmas on Saturday.
The Argentine picked up the knock after a clash of legs with Daniel Castellano with three minutes gone and although he tried to continue he eventually had to be substituted.
Barca are aiming to bounce back from their 4-1 mauling by Celta Vigo on Wednesday.
They have 12 points from five games, a point behind Real Madrid, Celta Vigo and Villarreal who are in a three-way tie for first place.
Midfielder Sergio Busquets said losing Messi was a big blow.
“He is the best player in the world, our best player and the most dangerous so we are going to notice this,” he told reporters.
“We are having a lot of bad luck with injuries and particularly now when we cannot sign players.”
Messi looks set to be sidelined for at least eight Barca games, as well as Argentina’s first four 2018 World Cup qualifiers, including a meeting a home to Brazil on Nov 13.
Moreover, he is now a huge doubt for the first El Clasico of the season away to Real Madrid on Nov 21.
Barca face Sevilla, Rayo Vallecano, Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal in La Liga before visiting the Bernabeu.
The European champions host Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday and will also have to do without Messi for back-to-back games against BATE Borisov.
“Firstly, it is always sad when a player gets injured. It is without doubt the worst thing in football for the players,” said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.
“Obviously, when it is Leo Messi even more so for the weight he carries amongst our group.
“It is logical in football that players will get injured and we have to know how to overcome it.
I am sure we will perform at a good level.”