Lionel Messi has completed the first stage of his recovery from a thigh strain and will travel to his native Argentina on Friday as planned to continue treatment, his club Barcelona said on Thursday.

Messi sustained the injury in a La Liga match at Real Betis on November 10 and the World Player of the Year is likely to be sidelined until the middle of January.

Club doctor Ricard Pruna and physio Elvio Paulorroso will join him in Argentina next month to supervise the final phase of his recovery program, Barca said on their website (

"His development is positive as the latest tests conducted show," they said.

Messi will miss Barca's final Champions League Group H match at home to an already eliminated Celtic on December 11, when the Spanish champions will be looking to secure top spot ahead of Italian side AC Milan.

He could be back in time for the January 12 La Liga game at second-placed Atletico Madrid, who are three points behind leaders Barca after 14 matches.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)