Sports Full Gist: Messi to miss Inter clash as Barcelona star rests following Mallorca hat-trick

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Ernesto Valverde has left the Argentine magician out of his latest Champions League squad with the Blaugrana already safely through to the last 16

Lionel Messi has been rested for Barcelona’s Champions League clash with Inter on Tuesday after scoring a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Mallorca at the weekend.

The 32-year-old helped the Spanish champions go back to the top of La Liga on Saturday, as he celebrated winning a record sixth Ballon d’Or at the start of the week with another superb display.

Messi’s 35th La Liga hat-trick saw him snatch Cristiano Ronaldo’s long-held record for trebles in the division, with Antoine Griezmann and Luiz Suarez also getting in on the act for Barca.

After overcoming persistent fitness issues at the start of the season, Messi has contributed 12 goals and five assists in 10 domestic outings, showing exactly why he is revered as the world’s finest player once again.

The Argentine, will not, however, have the chance to add to his 2019-20 tally when Barca travel to San Siro to face Inter in midweek.

Valverde has opted to leave Messi out of his final 20-man squad, with the Blaugrana already guaranteed to finish top of Group F after a 3-1 home win over Borussia Dortmund on November 27.

Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto have also been granted well-earned rests, while Nelson Semedo, Arthur, Ousmane Dembele and Jordi Alba remain sidelined through injury.

Inter must beat Barca to book their place in the knockout stages, as they sit ahead of Dortmund by virtue of their head-to-head record, with the German outfit set to host Slavia Prague on the same night.

Messi can now recharge his batteries in preparation for Barca’s trip to Real Sociedad on Saturday.

Valverde’s men lead the way in La Liga on goal difference ahead of Real Madrid after 15 fixtures, having recorded 11 wins, one draw and three defeats.

After their fixture at the Anoeta, Barca will look ahead to the first Clasico of the season, which is due to take place at Camp Nou on December 18.

The two sides were originally scheduled to face off on October 26, but the La Liga showdown was postponed by the Spanish football federation due to security concerns.