Rivaldo has warned Barcelona not to rush Lionel Messi back into action too quickly as he recovers from his second injury in as many months.
Without Messi leading the charge, Barcelona find themselves down in fifth-place in La Liga with two defeats to their name already. This is just one less than what they managed throughout all of the previous campaign.
And it appears that hopes of their star player delivering more of his dazzling displays at Camp Nou will have to remain shelved.
After helping Argentina claim a third-place Copa America finish, Messi missed the start of the season due to a calf injury in training. Then, shortly after returning, he picked up an abductor muscle issue in his thigh on Tuesday.
The Blaugrana captain, therefore, has only played 120 minutes of football across all competitions this season.
Now Rivaldo has warned Barcelona that Messi is no longer a young player, and needs to be carefully managed back to full fitness.
“Lionel Messi didn’t last more than 45 minutes in Barcelona’s defeat to Villarreal on Tuesday,” the Camp Nou legend told Betfair.
“As the Argentinian returns from injury, the club need to be careful about not rushing him back.
“He’s 32-years-old and has been playing at the highest level for a while without any rest, so it’s normal to see him starting to feel some pain at times.
“The club needs to let him fully recover so that he doesn’t suffer a recurrence of his injuries right after returning to the team.
“It doesn’t matter if he misses two, three weeks or a month. When I was in my early thirties, I thought I would never get injured, or feel pain, but it wasn’t the truth and those kinds of problems started to come.”
“Being 32 is not the same as being 25, so you need to manage your fitness better.”
However, Rivaldo did offer Barcelona fans hope by stating Messi can still lead the club to more glory in the upcoming years.
“I don’t see this as a sign of decline in Messi, though, as he will come back and have a few more years at the highest level,” added Rivaldo.
“Messi is a very important part of Barcelona and, even if they enjoy success without him, it won’t be the same as it has been for the past decade.
“For now, though, the season is just starting and there’s plenty of time for the player to recover without damaging the clubs’ chances in the Champions League and La Liga. It’s crucial that club and fans keep calm in this turbulent phase for the team.”