2026 WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION
Will Lionel Messi play for Argentina against Bolivia or return to Inter Miami? Is he injured?
The ex-Barcelona playmaker scored the only goal against Ecuador on Thursday but asked to come off before full-time.
After plenty of speculation surrounding Lionel Messi’s physical fitness, the Inter Miami star is expected to feature in Argentina’s second CONMEBOL qualifier for the 2026 World Cup rather than head back to the MLS club. According to Argentine journalist Gastón Edul, Albiceleste coach Lionel Scaloni will reveal in his pre-match press conference than his captain will make the trip to La Paz to take on Bolivia on Tuesday.
Why did Messi come off in Argentina’s win over Ecuador?
Although the former Barcelona playmaker has been showing signs of fatigue, tests have revealed that he is not carrying an injury and he is set to play in midweek as a result.
Argentina returned to training having had a short period of rest following their 1-0 win over Ecuador, with Messi involved as usual. There had been some concerns over the 36-year-old’s physical fitness after he asked to be taken off towards the end of Thursday’s qualifier. “I came off because I was tired. I’m sure it’s not going to be the last time it happens”, he explained. Messi underwent tests to ensure he hadn’t picked up any kind of injury, which the results ruled out.
How many games has Messi played since moving to Inter Miami?
Although it seems almost certain that Messi will travel to Bolivia with his teammates, there is still a slight chance Scaloni could opt to let him return to Inter Miami, even though he is, in theory, not carrying an injury. Since his arrival in the United States, the Argentine icon has played 12 games in 48 days, an average of one every four days. Now that he is coming towards the end of his career, and showing signs of muscle fatigue, a break would surely serve him well.
Argentina coach Scaloni to make Messi decision on Sunday
Argentina will hold their last training session on Sunday before travelling to La Paz, with Scaloni expected to address the media, and reveal whether Messi will indeed play, at midday local time (11:00 a.m. ET). It has been suggested that a number of younger players, such as Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho, Lucas Beltrán of Fiorentina and Brighton winger Facundo Buonanotte could come into team to take on Bolivia.