After what has been a whirlwind few months for Lionel Messi, he may not travel to face Bolivia as Argentina continue their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers. Messi scored a goal to draw level with Luis Suarez with the most goals scored in qualifying with 29 in a 1-0 victory over Ecuador on Thursday but Lionel Scaloni stated that Messi asked to be subbed out of the game because he "felt something".
Scaloni goes on to say that Messi will be evaluated to make a decision on if he will travel to face Bolivia, but before panic ensues, let's recap what Messi has gone through since joining Inter Miami in Major League Soccer. Once his season ended with Paris Saint-Germain on June of 2023 with Messi logging 90 minutes versus Clermont, Messi got just over a month off before his debut for Inter Miami to come off the bench scoring a stunning free kick while logging 36 minutes versus Cruz Azul.
Since that match, Messi has played a soccer match every three to four days for club or country for almost two months straight, only appearing from the bench one more time during that span. Messi even logged a full 120 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup to get past FC Cincinnati. No matter how much walking Messi has done while on the pitch, the travel around the Americas combined with logging 1013 minutes of high level soccer in a short span will wear on anyone.
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Inter Miami manager Tata Martino also isn't too concerned about the potential injury at this time. Speaking to reporters at Inter Miami training, here's what Martino had to say.
"It doesn't seem to be significant, just symptoms of fatigue. At least that's the report we got after the game. Today we should know better."
Bolivia is one of the toughest away stadiums in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. The Estadio Hernando Siles sits at an altitude of 11,932 feet making it a tough challenge for away teams. If Messi were to take part in that match, not only would he be at a heightened injury risk but he could need to miss Inter Miami's trip to Atlanta on Sept. 16. While there are four days between the two matches, coming back from South America to head right on the road is quite a task.
La Albiceleste has enough depth in the roster to get past Bolivia without Messi as well making it a natural chance to rest him. WHile there's always the risk that this could be a real injury due to the wear and tear of Messi's run for club and country, it seems more like a chance to protect their star so he can continue making magic happen.