Lionel Messi

Why Did Lionel Messi Opt Out of Argentina Squad Before Copa America?

Argentina and Inter Miami superstar Lionel Messi recently came out and spoke about him having to pick and choose his battles as age is catching up with him.

La Albiceleste and captain Messi are due to participate in the Copa America 2024 in USA later this month, with the 2024 Paris Olympics set to begin immediately after this tournament ends. However, he has ruled out participating in the latter.

Lionel Messi speaks up about Paris Olympics

Men’s football at the Olympics is an exclusively u-23 event, with three overage players permitted to be used by countries. This gave birth to speculation that Lionel Messi will represent Argentina in Paris in what would be his ‘last dance’ with said team.

However, he has now come out and has admitted he will not be able to play two tournaments back-to-back. Speaking in an interview with ESPN Argentina, he said,

“I talked to (Javier) Mascherano and the truth is we both understood the situation. It’s hard to think about Olympics because we are at the Copa America now. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club, and more than anything I’m not at an age to be in everything.”

Messi then explained how he has to pick his battles now that he is in the twilight of his career. He added,

“I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments. I’ve been very lucky to play in the Olympics, of winning it together with Masche. It was a wonderful experience on a football level. Olympics, U20 – memories I’ll never forget.”

Lionel Messi will be with the Argentina squad for at least a month starting now, which includes the duration of Copa America 2024. He will miss at least five games for Inter Miami as the Major League Soccer (MLS) season carries on.

ALSO READ: When will MLS players return after the Copa America 2024?

Miami coach Tata Martino says players must choose one option

In the wake of multiple international tournaments such as Copa America, Euro 2024, and the Paris Olympics, teams have to be extra careful about the workload they expose their players to.

Lionel Messi has been crucial for Inter Miami this season
Lionel Messi has been crucial for Inter Miami this season. (Getty Images)

To that tune, Inter Miami manager Tata Martino shared his views as he gears up to be without several players during the duration of the aforementioned tournaments. He said,

“I am pro-national team, but in this case there are two competitions close together and that implies a player is away for more than two months.”

His statement echoes his desire for players to choose one rather than participate in both. Missing a player of Messi’s caliber would be too much for Inter Miami, who are currently first in the Eastern Conference with 35 points from 18 games.

The Argentine has been crucial in helping his team make a strong start to the campaign. So far he has scored 12 goals and provided nine assists in 12 MLS games, and has also scored three goals and provided two assists in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

ALSO READ: Brazil squad for Copa America 2024: Who’s in and Who’s out, Key Players and Predicted Lineup

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