Argentina’s Under-23 coach Javier Mascherano has hinted that Lionel Messi could represent the nation at the Paris Olympics this summer.
La Albiceleste secured qualification for the quadrennial event and filled one of the two berths given to South American countries after defeating Brazil 1-0 on Sunday, February 11. Mascherano was quizzed about whether fans could witness Messi in action in Paris at the Games.
Responding to the question, the 39-year-old said (via @AlbicelesteTalk):
“Messi at the Olympics? He has open doors from me, it’s on him to decide. He congratulated us. We know that Leo is a big fan of the National Team. There will be time to talk.”
Messi was instrumental in leading Argentina to World Cup glory in 2022 in Qatar. He bagged seven goals and three assists and was awarded the Golden Ball, which is given to the tournament’s best player.
So far in his national team career, Messi has made 180 appearances, bagging 106 goals and 56 assists. He has also won the Olympic gold medal back in 2008.
It will be interesting to see whether the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner makes it as one of the three over-23 players allowed in the tournament.
Messi is currently preparing with Inter Miami for the start of the new MLS season, scheduled to kick off with a clash against Real Salt Lake on February 21.
La Liga president Javier Tebas admits Lionel Messi was close to Barcelona return
La Liga president Javier Tabas confirmed that Lionel Messi was close to returning to Barcelona after his contract expired at Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2023.
The Argentine icon was reportedly considering Saudi Arabia, the MLS, and Barcelona as potential destinations. He eventually agreed to a deal with Inter Miami.
However, Tabas admitted that the 36-year-old attacker nearly returned to Camp Nou and said during a live stream for Kick (via Football Espana):
“Because of Messi and Barcelona’s desire, I saw a return as close. I saw it as possible. I’m sure Messi would have liked to retire at Barca.”
Messi has enjoyed a stunning 21-year stay at Barcelona, where he made 778 appearances across competitions, bagging 672 goals and 303 assists.
He won La Liga 10 times and laid his hands on the UEFA Champions League trophy four times, among other honors.