Lionel Messi won't play in 2024 Olympics for Argentina

Lionel Messi will not play for Argentina at the Paris Olympics, citing his workload with playing in Copa America starting later this month.

“I talked to (coach Javier) Mascherano and the truth is we both understood the situation,” Messi said in an interview with ESPN. “It’s hard (to think about the Olympics right now) because we’re in Copa America. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club, and more than anything I’m not at an age to be in everything.

“I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments. I’ve been very lucky to play in the Olympics, of winning it together with Masche. It was a wonderful experience on a football level.”

Messi, 36, and Argentina look to defend their Copa America title and will face Canada in the tournament’s opening game on June 20. The Copa America final takes place on July 14, just 10 days before the men’s Olympic soccer tournament begins.

Immediately after Argentina’s U-23 men’s team qualified for the Paris Olympics, stories began to swirl about Messi’s possible inclusion in the squad as an over-age player — one of the three players over the age of 23 allowed for each team in the men’s tournament. Mascherano said Messi had an “open invitation” to join the Olympic squad but acknowledged Messi’s multiple commitments this summer.

Following Copa America, Messi will rejoin Inter Miami to defend another trophy — the Leagues Cup that Miami won last summer. That competition begins on July 26, the same day as the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

Messi didn’t need to seriously consider playing in a U-23 tournament since he won a gold medal with Argentina at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A second Copa America title would be a far greater achievement, and the Leagues Cup will be Inter Miami’s primary focus during the time of the Olympics.

In addition to his Olympics decision, Messi told ESPN that he expects to end his club career with Inter Miami. He has made 29 appearances for Miami during his first year at the club, providing 25 goals and 16 assists. He was part of the side that won the 2023 Leagues Cup, scoring in the final and converting his penalty kick in the shootout, as Miami secured its first major trophy.

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(Photo: Daniel Bartel / USA Today)

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