Lionel Messi is out of Barcelona’s week-long preseason tour of the United States due to a calf injury, although the problem is not serious and the captain will most likely be ready for training next week, when the squad returns from America.
In an ideal world Messi would be with the squad to get to know his new teammates and play a couple of tune-up games before the official start of the season, but Leo is not there. Which is actually really good news for one player who is there: Carles Pérez.
After impressing in Japan and playing 45 minutes in the Joan Gamper Trophy against Arsenal, the 21-year-old earned a ticket for the plane ride with the first team to Miami and Detroit, which may not have happened if Messi was fit and able to travel. Pérez now gets a golden chance to play the final two preseason matches, both against Napoli, and it’s a huge opportunity to prove that he deserves to be in the first team.
As we’ve explained before, Pérez and his agents don’t want him to play for Barça B in the Third Division, and Ernesto Valverde and Éric Abidal agree with him. What they don’t agree on is that Pérez should be promoted to the first team right now, and if that doesn’t happen until the start of the season the player is willing to leave on loan for a season to play first division minutes and become a better, more mature footballer that can earn his spot in the first team next season.
Nothing has been decided yet, and Valverde can’t be accused of not giving Pérez enough minutes to prove his worth in preseason. If he gets to play 30-45 minutes again in each of the two games this week, it’s a huge opportunity to play hard, play well and show he can be part of the six-man forward group, especially if Philippe Coutinho and Rafinha leave the club this summer.