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The reason why Messi was allowed on Argentina’s bench against Bolivia despite not being in the squad

Despite not being part of Scaloni’s squad for the game against Bolivia, Messi was still allowed on the bench. Here’s the unbelievable reason why.

Messi está listo para regresar con Inter Miami

Lionel Messi did not make up part of Lionel Scaloni’s match day squad for the game against Bolivia as part of the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, yet the player was still allowed on the bench.

Normally, when a player is left out of the match day squad, be it due to injury, suspension or a managerial decision, they are forced to sit in the stands, usually just behind the substitutes bench. They are normally present in the stadium with the rest of their teammates but they do not take part in anything to do with the game. However, Messi was different: he was there and even more than just being a part of proceedings, he was allowed to sit on the bench - but why?

Messi did not feature at all against Bolivia

Argentina beat Bolivia 0-3 in La Paz in a game that Messi was highly expected to miss out on, given the huge physical output we have seen from the 36-year-old since his earth-shattering move to Inter Miami in MLS. The forward has been the keystone to the Florida side’s resurgence under Tata Martino, and they are unbeaten since his arrival. The team have won their first ever trophy - Leagues Cup - and are in the final of the US Open Cup, which will be played in September.

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Messi watches on from the bench during Argentina's game against Bolivia.Luis GandarillasEFE

Why was Messi allowed on the bench vs Bolivia?

According to TNT Sport, Lionel Messi incredibly signed on for the game not as a player but as an assistant to Lionel Scaloni and his first-team staff members, a role which granted the player a spot on the bench alongside his teammates.

Putting Messi down as a substitute would have taken up one of the spots on the bench and, given that it was agreed between the two Leos that Messi was not to play, it made little sense for the ex-Barcelona man to be there. Presumably that is why, when you look at the photo above, Messi is not dressed like his teammates as he sits next to them, but he is instead wearing the Adidas gear given by the Federation to the coaching staff.