Monday Kickoff: Messi ruled out for six to eight weeks; Özil and Mertesacker remain in London; and more

Monday Kickoff: Messi ruled out for six to eight weeks; Özil and Mertesacker remain in London; and more

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Monday Kickoff: Messi ruled out for six to eight weeks; Özil and Mertesacker remain in London; and more

LionelMessiBarcelona1-Espanyol (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Barcelona’s three-point lead at the top of La Liga became even more tenuous on Monday morning.

The Spanish club announced on Monday following tests that star playmaker Lionel Messi has been diagnosed with a hamstring muscle tear and is set for six to eight weeks on the sidelines. Messi was forced off in the 19th minute of Barcelona’s 4-1 victory at Betis with the injury.

It’s the latest in a string of muscle injuries for Messi, who has been pretty much injury free during his whole professional career. Some reports have stated that Barcelona are giving the press an extended recovery timeline so Messi doesn’t try and rush back from the injury too fast. The injury also keeps Messi out of a pair of international friendlies that Argentina had scheduled to take place in the United States.

Here are some more stories to kick off your week:

ÖZIL AND MERTESACKER REMAIN IN LONDON WITH ILLNESS

It seems that there’s a reason behind the somewhat lackluster play from Mesut Özil on Sunday against Manchester United.

In a press conference in Munich, Germany National Team manager Joachim Löw said that after speaking with the Germany and Arsenal medical staff, it was advised that both Özil and Mertesacker remain back in London, as they are both suffering from flu-like symptoms. The illness kept Mertesacker and his teammate Tomas Rosicky out of the 1-0 defeat in Old Trafford.

Löw didn’t announce a timetable for their return, or whether they would join the German squad for their friendly match this Friday against Italy in Milan. Miroslav Klose is also a doubt for the friendly against Italy and the one the following Tuesday against England because of a shoulder injury.

QUICK KICKS

Barcelona youngster Marc Bartra has been called in to replace the injured Cesc Fabregas in the Spain squad. (REPORT)

Lazio will soon begin negotiations with midfielder Hernanes and his representatives over a new contract. (REPORT)

Reports in France state that former AC Milan legend Paulo Maldini could become the next sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain. (REPORT)

Club Tijuana have parted ways with head coach Jorge Almiron after failing to make the Liga MX Apertura playoffs for the second tournament in a row. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Messi returning before Christmas? Do you see Barcelona continuing to win without him? Do you believe that Özil played vs. Manchester United with the flu?

Share your thoughts below.

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