Argentina release Lionel Messi statement suggesting Tata Martino was way off with his assessment

Lionel Messi is set to miss out on Argentina’s two friendlies through injury, despite Inter Miami head coach Tata Martino suggesting the issue wasn’t serious.

During the match against Nashville SC in the Concacaf Champions Cup last week, Messi was substituted in the 50th minute. After securing a 3-1 victory, Inter Miami boss Tata Martino attempted to quell worries surrounding his star player, insisting Messi was taken off because of “a muscle overload in his right leg.”

Martino said: “We tried to make him continue but he told us he wasn’t feeling well, so he was substituted as a precaution.” The injury proved to be more severe than initially thought, however. Messi was sidelined for Miami’s 3-1 win over D.C United on Saturday, with Martino saying after the match that they’d play it safe.

“Messi’s injury must be dealt with week by week, and we will evaluate it,” he said. “We’ll continuously evaluate what he’s doing. The objective is for him to arrive to be able to play in the quarterfinals of Concacaf Champions Cup. We don’t want to take a risk.”

Argentina appears unwilling to take any risk and push Messi while he’s not 100% healthy, either. The country’s association announced on Monday that the 36-year-old would miss the friendlies versus El Salvador and Costa Rica during the international break.

The statement said: “The captain of Argentina Lionel Messi, will not be able to be in the squad for the friendlies in USA due to a minor injury to the hamstring of his right leg suffered in his team’s Inter Miami’s match against Nashville SC.”

Messi was previously slated to play in both friendlies held at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on March 22, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on March 26. According to ESPN, he could still meet up with the world champions sometime this week and be treated by Argentina’s medical staff for a portion of his rehabilitation process.

Lionel Messi suffered an injury against Nashville SC last week

Lionel Messi suffered an injury against Nashville SC last week (

Image:

Johnnie Izquierdo/Getty Images)

The national team was initially scheduled to play their March friendlies in China, but this plan went awry once Messi didn’t appear in Miami’s friendly against Hong Kong XI on February 4. After missing the match with an adductor injury, the 2023 Ballon d’Or winner logged 30 minutes against Vissel Kobe in Tokyo several days later. The Hong Kong government viewed this as a “deliberate and calculated snub.”

“However three days later, Messi was able to play actively and freely in Japan,” the governmental department said at the time. “The government hopes the organisers and teams can provide reasonable explanations.”

As for a return date, Martino’s previous comments suggest he expects Messi to be able to play in their CONCACAF Champions Cup match against CF Monterrey on April 2. In five matches over all competitions with Miami this season, the star forward has five goals and two assists.

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