Messi to miss rest of 2013

Barcelona, Spain ( - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has likely played his last game of 2013 after he sustained a torn hamstring during Sunday's 4-1 win over Real Betis.

Messi was injured while challenging for a ball with Betis defender Jose Caro in the 18th minute and he immediately motioned to the sideline to be substituted, with Andres Iniesta coming on in his place.

Tests on Monday confirmed the extent of the injury, which is expected to force Messi to be out until the first weekend of January when Barcelona hosts Elche in league play.

"The club's medical services confirmed after tests this Monday morning that Leo Messi has a torn hamstring muscle in his left thigh and is expected to miss the next six to eight weeks," read a statement from Barcelona. "The first phase of Messi's recovery will be covered in Barcelona and he will then travel to Buenos Aires."

The injury is the latest setback in what has been a frustrating start to the season for the 26-year-old, who has already missed time on two occasions because of muscle problems.

Despite the injury issues Messi has still managed to score 14 goals in 16 games this season for Barcelona, which sits three points clear at the top of the league table.