Martino suggests Messi must skip Olympics for Copa America

Lionel Messi may have to give up on his desire to play at the Paris Olympic Games if he wishes to represent Argentina at this year’s Copa America, Inter Miami boss Gerardo Martino has suggested.

Messi won Olympic gold alongside the likes of Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano at Beijing 2008, and reports have claimed he wishes to compete at a second edition of the Games this year.

The men’s football tournament at Paris 2024, which Kylian Mbappe has also expressed an interest in playing in, begins on 24th July and ends on 9th August.

However, Messi already has one international commitment this year, with Argentina set to defend their Copa America title in the United States. The Albiceleste open their campaign on 20th June, with the final taking place in Florida on 14th July.

Read our other sports news stories here:
‘I always want to play’ – Messi clarifies Hong Kong absence
Boston Red Sox: Devers Questions Off-Season Moves
LeBron ‘committed’ to Olympic role with USA Basketball

The prospect of Messi playing in both tournaments, then, is an awkward one for Miami, who face being without their talisman for almost two months if it comes to pass.

Asked if Messi will have to choose between the two competitions, Herons boss Martino suggested that was the case as he drew a comparison to Miami’s Paraguayan midfielder Diego Gomez on Tuesday.

“He has the Copa America and the Olympic Games, we know that we have to send him to the Copa, and not the Games,” Martino said of Gomez.

“We communicate; I have a lot of friends in Paraguay and I told them to choose just one.

“I am pro-selection, but in this case there are two competitions together and it implies that a player is away for more than two months. They are going to tell me which tournament they want to go to.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi)

Messi’s fitness has been a talking point as Miami prepare for their first full MLS campaign with the Barcelona and Argentina great.

The 36-year-old was accused of deliberately snubbing his Chinese fans when he failed to appear in a friendly win over a Hong Kong XI earlier this month, though he insists he had a genuine adductor injury.

Martino, however, has no concerns about his condition, saying: “I see the same Messi who arrived in the middle of last year. He is very well, he has trained very well.

“He recovered from the inflammation in his adductor, he could have played the full game against Newell’s [a 1-1 friendly draw last week] if I had wanted him to.”

Miami begin their 2024 campaign against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, and Martino says his focus is on tailoring Messi’s role to get the maximum out of him.

“We don’t want him to have so much wear and tear, just to receive the ball in the final metres,” he said. “The worst thing that can happen to us is him not touching the ball.

“Without the ball, we have a mechanism so we can quickly adapt to the place where he ends up, to be able to recover the ball with some urgency.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts