Barcelona president hoping Lionel Messi will be fit to face Real Madrid

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Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is hopeful that Lionel Messi will recover from injury in time to face Real Madrid on November 21.

The Argentina international has been sidelined since September after tearing a ligament in his left knee during a league match against Las Palmas.

Defending Spanish champions Barca are top of the Primera Division standings, three points clear of Real heading into the first 'El Clasico' of the campaign at the Bernabeu.

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When asked if Messi would be fit for the encounter in Madrid, Bartomeu said to Marca: "I hope he can play.

"He is recovering within the time frame that we set out."

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Messi underlined his status as one of the best players in history last season when he scored 60 goals and set up 28 more in 60 appearances, helping the Blaugrana capture a Primera Division, Champions League and Copa del Rey treble.

The 28-year-old forward is already the all-time record goalscorer for Barcelona.

Since losing Messi to injury, Barca have won seven and lost just one of their nine games in all competitions.

FC Barcelona v Levante UD - La Liga

They have won four on the trot in La Liga and will be hoping to continue that run when they face Madrid after the international break.

"Our aim is to win against our biggest rival," Bartomeu said.

Twelve Barca first-team players are currently on international duty, including Brazil captain Neymar, who is La Liga's leading scorer with 11 goals.

"We hope that all the players that are currently with their national teams return without injuries and with a lot of strength," Bartomeu added.

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Lionel Messi
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