Lionel Messi could make an earlier return than expected against Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday…even if Barcelona have hardly missed him.
Four wins out of four, including a stroll past Inter Milan and a hammering of Real Madrid mean Messi reunites with a team enjoying its strongest run of the season, ironically without its talismanic skipper.
The Catalans have named Messi in their squad for the match at the San Siro, even if he is yet to be given the medical all-clear.
It could be his involvement is either as a substitute or even delayed until Sunday, when Barca host Real Betis in La Liga.
Perhaps it will depend on how much Barca need him and, in that respect, Messi’s absence has been less pronounced than many predicted 15 days ago when he tumbled and broke his right arm against Sevilla.
A draw against Inter will guarantee qualification from Group B while victory would secure top spot, with two games still to spare.
Their chances will be significantly boosted if Messi returns but the last fortnight will perhaps have given Barca greater belief too…knowing they can function without him.