Manager Ernesto Valverde has explained why superstar Lionel Messi was not involved from the start in FC Barcelona's crucial away win on Tuesday night.
The Argentine was not named in the Catalan club's starting XI for their LaLiga fixture at Deportivo Alaves on Tuesday, although he did come on to replace Ousmane Dembele with 30 minutes to go.
At the time of the change, Barca were already comfortable with their 2-0 lead, the goals coming from Carles Alena and Luis Suarez.
Speaking on his decision to leave Messi out of his starting XI, Valverde explained that he did it simply to give the 31-year-old some rest, although he also believed giving the forward some minutes was important too.
"The idea was that he'd play because the result wasn't clear when it was goalless at half-time," the Spaniard said after the game, according to the Daily Star.
"The suggestion that it was about the Golden Shoe... well, we focus on winning.
"It was time for him to get some rest today and to come out in the second half.
"It's good for players to stay involved and active. You can't put them away in a case and then just bring them out for one match."
Last season, Valverde was often criticised for not resting the club's record goalscorer enough, something he has done nine times across all competitions in this campaign.
The boss might also have had in mind his team's congested fixture list, with Levante in LaLiga coming up this weekend, followed by the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final against Liverpool next week Wednesday.
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