Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong have been left out of Barcelona’s squad for Tuesday’s game against Dynamo Kiev with coach Ronald Koeman saying they both need a rest.
Messi has featured in all 11 of Barca’s games to date this season, only sitting out the first 45 minutes of the game against Real Betis during the international break.
In addition, he has just returned from playing two World Cup qualifiers with Argentina.
Meanwhile, De Jong has started every Barca game since Koeman was appointed and played three times for the Netherlands last week.
Koeman said neither will travel to Ukraine for this week’s Champions League fixture because he is thinking about their wellbeing — and he urged UEFA and FIFA to do the same.
“We thought it’s a good moment to give a rest to Leo and Frenkie,” Koeman said in a news conference on Monday.
“Both players played all the games, mostly all the minutes, and they need to play with the national teams [last week]. Messi had a difficult trip back from South America.
“Sometimes you need to protect players because the calendar of games is incredible. It’s time for UEFA and FIFA to think about what we are doing with the football players because it’s crazy what they need to play.”
A packed schedule has led to several injuries at Barca, with Koeman only able to name a 19-man squad for the match in Kiev, including three B team players.