Argentina midfielder Thiago Almada reckons it’s up to Lionel Messi to participate in the Paris Olympics this summer.
Argentina qualified for the quadrennial event after the U-23 team beat their Brazilian counterparts 1-0 on Sunday in qualifying. Brazil were the two-time defending champions but will finish outside the top-two.
The Paraguay-Venezuela game will decide which other team joins La Albiceleste in Paris, with Brazil finishing with just three points. Argentina ended their campaign with five.
Shortly after sealing their Olympic qualification, Almada – who plays for DC United in the MLS – said that the team would be elated to have Messi in their fold. The senior Argentina captain last appeared in the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing, which the South American nation won.
“We will be very happy if Messi plays with us at the Olympics,” said Almada (as per Albiceleste Talk).It’s on him to decide.”
In five games at the 2008 Olympics, Messi scored thrice and assisted once as Argentina won the gold, beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final, thanks to the 36-year-old’s assist.
Olympic rules allow three players over the age of 23 in squads, but Messi hasn’t yet talked about making the team for the Olympics.
How has Lionel Messi fared for Argentina?
Lionel Messi has had a stellar career with the senior Argentina football team. In 180 appearances across competitions, the Inter Miami attacker has 106 goals and 56 assists, all three being record tallies for his nation.
Messi tasted his first senior international success with La Albiceleste at the Copa America in 2021, beating hosts Brazil 1-0 in the final, thanks to an Angel Di Maria strike. Messi contributed four goals and five assists in seven games.
His next trophy with the national team followed a year later, in the Finalissima, beating Italy 3-0, with Messi assisting twice. However, his bigger success came later that year in Qatar.
The 36-year-old led his team from the front, with seven goals and three assists in seven games, playing every minute. Messi scored twice in the final, which Argentina won on penalties after a 3-3 draw in extra time to win his second Golden Ball.
It was La Albiceleste’s first World Cup triumph in 36 years and third overall, following their earlier successes in 1978 and 1986.