Lionel Messi admits “health must always come first” as the Barcelona superstar joins those taking in a period of self-isolation during “complicated” and worrying times in the coronavirus outbreak.
A global pandemic is forcing a concerned global population to take decisive action in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Professional sportsmen and women form part of that process, with events having been cancelled and suspended around the world.
La Liga has joined the likes of Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Premier League in bringing competitive football to an immediate halt.
Barcelona have taken matters a step further by postponing all training activity for two weeks.
A statement released by the Catalan giants read: “Given the healthcare situation and according to the recommendations of the club’s medical staff, the first team has suspended all activity until further notice.”
Messi and the Blaugrana will not be back on the field any time soon, with a Champions League clash with Manchester City going the same way as La Liga matches.
As a result, Quique Setien’s squad are taking in an enforced break.
They will be adhering to any protocols put in place, with six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi looking to lead by example when it comes to following coronavirus advice.
He has posted on social media: “These are complicated days for everyone.
“We live worried about what is happening and want to help by removing ourselves from the places where those are having the worst of it, either because it directly affected them or their family and friends, or because they are working on the front line to combat it in hospitals and health centres.
“I want to send a lot of strength to all of them.
“Health must always come first. It is an exceptional moment and you must follow the instructions of both health organisations and public authorities. Only in this way can we combat it effectively.
“It is time to be responsible and stay at home, it is also a perfect opportunity to enjoy that time with those that you cannot always be around.
“A hug and hopefully we can turn this situation around as soon as possible.
Football in Spain has initially been shut down for two matchdays, taking matters through to the end of what was supposed to be the next international break.
There are, however, mounting fears that competitive action will remain off the cards for some time beyond that point.
As things stand, Barca sit top of the Liga table – two points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid with 11 games left to take in.