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Mascherano: Messi making 'fantastic' recovery

Messi has been out of action since tearing a muscle in his thigh in Barca's 4-1 win over Real Betis last month.

However, the Argentina international is reportedly poised to return shortly after the La Liga season resumes on January 4.

And compatriot Mascherano is hopeful that the 26-year-old, who is in the running to win a fifth consecutive Ballon d'Or next month, will recapture his best from upon his return.

"I have spoken to Leo during his injury. I know that he is fine, he has made a fantastic recovery," the former Liverpool man told TyC Sports.

"We are waiting for his return with open arms, both in Barcelona and with the national team, as he is important in both cases.

"The thing that makes him happy is being on the pitch, so hopefully he can get comfortable quickly."