Argentina holding out hope Lionel Messi will play in 2024 Olympics

Argentina under-23 coach Javier Mascherano isn’t giving up hope that he can convince Lionel Messi to play in the Olympics this summer.

Messi’s loaded schedule this year isn’t making it likely that he will be in Paris, but Mascherano told TyC Sports this week that he’s spoken with the footballer about being one of Argentina’s three possible overage players. 

Olympic rosters are composed of U-23 players, with teams allowed to have three that are older.

Lionel Messi has a packed summer schedule placing questions on whether he’ll play in the Olympics. Stefan Jeremiah for NY Post

“I spoke with Leo and we agreed to keep talking. He has just started the season with Inter Miami and we still have some time until the Olympic Games. And we have to consider he also has the Copa América ahead this summer. It is not an easy situation,” Mascherano said, as translated by USA Today. 

“We have to see if he really has the energy to be there [in Paris]. It is not our intention to bother him or pressure him. We made him an invitation in advance, and we gave him all the facts he needs to think about it and to talk with his club. It is not easy for him, either, to manage it with Inter Miami and the MLS and to be absent for a while.

“He will decide at the right time.”

Messi, 36, is under contract with Inter Miami, which signed the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner last summer.

He is also expected to play for his home country at Copa America 2024, which is taking place from June 20-July 10. 

Also taking place at the same time as the Olympics this year is the Leagues Cup, a tournament that includes all MLS clubs and teams from Mexico’s Liga MX. 

Lionel Messi is expected to play for Argentina during the Copa America. AFP via Getty Images

On top of that, Mascherano understands that Messi’s age is now part of the equation as well. 

“Beyond the fact that he still has a superlative level, we have to understand that Leo’s age is a factor now. He clearly has to manage his efforts,” he said. 

Inter Miami coach Tata Martino has hinted that he would prefer his players to pick either playing in the Olympics or Copa America — but not both international tournaments. 

Messi has appeared in the first three regular-season games of the year for Inter Miami and has registered three goals and one assist. 

He helped lead Argentina to a gold medal in 2008 at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, recording an assist in the final match against Nigeria.

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