The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner does form part of the Albiceleste squad that is due to be back in action on Tuesday. He scored the winning goal for his country as they opened their quest to reach the 2026 finals in the United States, Mexico and Canada with a 1-0 win over Ecuador.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
There has been talk of Messi being rested against Bolivia, given his recent workload at MLS side Inter Miami, but ex-Bolivia goalkeeper Jose Carlos Fernandez believes memories of the past will be leading the all-time great to ponder whether he really wants to take to the field in testing conditions that are played at the highest altitude.
WHAT THEY SAID
Fernandez has told D Sports Radio of the questions surrounding Messi’s potential involvement: “If you ask me, I prefer him to play. The two worst games in his history as a footballer have been in the city of La Paz, I have seen him suffer. The height kills him psychologically. I think he will not play in this game.”
Messi was part of the Argentina squad that famously lost 6-1 away to Bolivia under Diego Maradona in 2009. Four years later, he struggled again as the Albiceleste could only claim a 1-1 draw in La Paz, but Messi finally tasted victory in Bolivia in October 2020 as Argentina earned a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
While spotting a potential chink in Messi’s often impenetrable armour, Fernandez does hold the 2022 World Cup winner – who has been starring in America for Inter Miami - in the highest regard. He added: “I think the Argentine national team won the World Cup thanks to him. He wins the games when it suits him, and that's perfect.”