Four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi will travel to his native Argentina on Friday to continue his recuperation from a torn hamstring, his club Barcelona confirmed on Thursday.
Messi suffered his third and most serious muscle injury of the season earlier this month in a 4-1 win away to Real Betis and is not expected to return to action until after the La Liga winter break in January.
"Once he has finished the first part of his recuperation, Lionel Messi will travel on Friday to Argentina, as had been planned, to begin the second phase under the supervision of the club's medical services," said a statement on the club's website.
"Doctor Ricard Pruna and physical trainer Elvio Paulorroso will travel to Argentina in the middle of December to supervise the final part of his recovery from the injury. His progress is positive, as the latest tests carried out have shown."
It is expected that Messi will return to Barcelona at the beginning of the new year with the Catalans hopeful he will be fit to face high-flying Atletico Madrid on January 12.
The Spanish champions have generally coped well without their injured superstar as they lead La Liga by three points from Atletico and have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League.
However, they slipped to their first defeat of the campaign in all competitions on Tuesday as they produced a dismal display in losing 2-1 away to 10-man Ajax in the Champions League.