Luis Enrique: Messi is irreplaceable

Luis Enrique admits it will be hard for Barcelona to replace Lionel Messi as they prepare for Tuesday's Champions League match versus Bayer Leverkusen at Camp Nou.

The Argentina international faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after sustaining a knee injury in Saturday's win over Las Palmas and Luis Enrique realises his team faces a tough challenge to cope without its star man.

"It's a big challenge to play without Messi. It's an added incentive to win for Messi, but he is irreplaceable," said the Barca coach.

"It is always difficult to adapt. I am sure it will be an extra motivation for the players. Our philosophy will be the same and we'll do what we have to do. I won't ask a player to do more in order to make up for Messi's absence. Neymar will keep being Neymar, he does that well.

"We are missing our best player, but are still competitive. We will have to find a way to replace Messi and make sure we remain on track. We are motivated to do well.

"I don't know whether the absence of Messi will affect our opponents' motivation. We are just looking to get a good result against a strong opponent.

"Of course, it is a very important game, because we drew our first game against Roma. If you want to progress, you have to win at home. But it will be a difficult game."

Barcelona had to make do without Claudio Bravo and Jordi Alba against Las Palmas due to injury, but the duo is ready to return against Leverkusen.

"Jordi Alba and Claudio Bravo have both trained on Monday," he said.

"In theory, they are ready to play against Leverkusen."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1