Barcelona has no plans to rest Lionel Messi despite his Argentina endeavours coming after the forward played in all 11 of his club's matches this season.
Ernesto Valverde, whose side has won seven straight matches to kick off its La Liga campaign in style, insists there is no immediate need to rest the man he believes is the world's best player.
Messi scored a magnificent hat-trick for Argentina against Ecuador on Tuesday to lead his side to next year's World Cup in Russia after it initially fell behind in the decisive qualifier before claiming a 3-1 victory.
But despite Messi starting every Barca game in addition to his international travel and match commitments, Valverde has no plans to rest him, with Saturday's crucial away game against Atletico Madrid next on the agenda. "Messi had his pre-season which was normal - sometimes the players come off World Cups and other tournaments," Valverde explained at his pre-match media conference.
"There are players who come late to the pre-season, but for him it was normal in that respect. I think he is strong at the moment and we through it was important for him to help us early on this season. We will look at it as the season goes on, but for now it is good idea for us that he keeps playing."
'Best player in the world'
Since taking charge, Valverde has been most impressed by Messi's continued competitiveness even though he has already achieved so much in the game. "His perpetual competitiveness [impresses me most]," said Valverde. "You know that he can resolve any game. He is the best player in the world, he knows that, and it is tough to carry that weight on your shoulders every day. It is not just one day, it's today, tomorrow, the next day – it is an unbelievable level of competitiveness he has."
Valverde was concerned about the prospect of Messi either missing the World Cup or having to play a play-off match for Argentina. "Yeah, above all [I was worried about a play-off] but I also want my players to get into the World Cup, I'm not just worried about extra games," added the Barca boss.
"He would have had to make a trip to New Zealand, we would have lost him and Javier Mascherano, which we would have been tough for the team in the Sevilla match [on November 4]. So the fact they were able to get in, especially in that way, is good for him and good for us.
"The people of Argentina were hoping he would show up and he showed up in a big way. I don't really believe anybody doubts that [his greatness] now. We are going to try and play with the best team for Atletico. We have to see how the players feel when they come back. Messi is good, a couple of other players are good. I think Sergio Busquets took a knock, but Ivan Rakitic and Thomas Vermaelen are good."