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Messi needs surgery on broken foot

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MADRID, Spain -- Argentine forward Lionel Messi will need surgery on a foot injury sustained in Sunday's 3-1 Primera Liga win over Real Zaragoza that will sideline him for up to three months.

"Messi has broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. He will need surgery and the estimated time out will be three months," Barcelona confirmed on their Web site.

The 19-year-old international limped off in the 23rd minute of Sunday's game after tackles from Zaragoza midfielders Alberto Zapater and Albert Celades in a frenetic opening period.

Messi will miss Barca's remaining Champions League Group A matches against Levski Sofia and Werder Bremen. The European champions are third in the group.

He will also been unable to compete in December's World Club Cup in Japan.

Messi's loss is a major blow to the Primera Liga leaders with Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o still recovering from knee surgery and not back until the new year.

Barca were dealt a further blow later on Monday when striker Javier Saviola joined their lengthening injury list.

"Saviola has torn a muscle in his left thigh. We predict a recovery period of between four and six weeks," said a club spokesman.

The 24-year-old Argentine scored Barca's third goal against Zaragoza after coming on as a second-half substitute.

The pressure will now be on Ronaldinho, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Ludovic Giuly and Santi Ezquerro to cover Barca's three front positions into the new year.

Added to his problems in attack, coach Frank Rijkaard has Brazilians Edmilson and Luciano Belletti out for around 10 days, while midfielder Xavi has not yet returned to action since sustaining a hairline fracture of his tibia.


Messi's absence is a major blow for Barca following-on from Samuel Eto'o's injury.



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