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Real reason why Messi played only 15 minutes against Mamelodi Sundowns

Last updated 2 years ago | By Mirror

Lionel Messi in action in South Africa [Photo: Courtesy]

Barcelona were contractually bound to play Lionel Messi against Mamelodi Sundowns last week.

The La Liga champions travelled to South Africa in midweek for the friendly match which they won 3-1.

Messi was brought off the bench for the final 15 minutes, but will be rested for the final league match against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Barca were contractually obliged to play Messi [Photo: Courtesy]

Manager Ernesto Valverde said: "Messi has carried a load of important matches, even playing with discomfort, now we have thought to rest a little.

"In South Africa he played 15 minutes for a contractual issue, but it has helped us a lot and the idea is to rest."

Andres Iniesta will bid farewell to Barcelona after Sunday's match.

And Valverde called on his players to give the Spaniard the perfect send-off.

Messi only played for 15 minutes [Photo: Courtesy]

"We want to finish the year well against a good team," Valverde told a press conference streamed live on Barca's official website.

"It is an important game for all blaugranas because of what Andres Iniesta means and we want to end with a victory."

Iniesta's departure will create a big hole in the LaLiga champions' side, but Valverde is confident they can cope without him.

"We won't get a replica of Andres Iniesta," he said.

"We have players like Denis Suarez, (Carles) Alena or (Philippe) Coutinho, who are similar but a little more attack-minded. All of us will have to make up for his absence together."

Barca's hopes of finishing their league campaign unbeaten blew up in smoke after suffering a 5-4 defeat at Levante in their penultimate game last week.

Andres Iniesta will play his final game for the club on Sunday [Photo: Courtesy]

Despite that disappointment, Valverde has applauded his players for the season they have produced.

"I'll give the team a good grade as it has been a long and hard campaign," Valverde added. "We have had a good end of the season."

Barca are without suspended midfielder Sergi Roberto following his sending off against Real Madrid earlier this month.

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