Lionel Messi held out of Barcelona's final preseason match with a thigh strain

Chris McGrath

Messi was held out of today's friendly in Malaysia after picking up what's being described as a knock to his thigh.

Lionel Messi did not play in Barcelona's final preseason match Saturday after picking up what's being called a knock to his thigh, but is believed to be a minor thigh strain.

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The team hasn't released many details about the injury or the severity, but all signs point to it not being serious and more to do with not wanting to risk Messi ahead of next weekend's league opener against Levante.

Barca are playing a Malaysian XI side in Kuala Lumpur as they close out their Asia tour and their preseason schedule. New signing Neymar started in place of Messi and scored a goal late in the first half.

As for Messi, he's expected to be ready for the season opener next Sunday, but his availability for Argentina's friendly against Italy on Tuesday is in doubt.

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