'He didn't even try' - Lionel Messi absence for Argentina against Bolivia explained as Lionel Scaloni admits Inter Miami star 'didn't feel comfortable'

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Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni says Lionel Messi "wasn't fit" to play against Bolivia as Inter Miami star "didn't even try" in training due to injury.
  • Messi came off against Ecuador
  • Travelled with Argentinian squad to Bolivia
  • Inter Miami star not fit for 3-0 win

WHAT HAPPENED? The Argentine World Cup winner was substituted late on in his nation's 1-0 win over Ecuador last Thursday, a game he bagged the winner in with a trademark free-kick. But concerns were raised when manager Scaloni said the 36-year-old felt "something" and asked to be replaced in the match's dying embers. Before Monday's clash with Bolivia, Scaloni said the Inter Miami star would travel with the Argentinian squad but he was ultimately left out of the final matchday squad. In the end, Argentina did not need their talisman as they ran out 3-0 winners, thanks to goals from Enzo Fernandez, Nicolas Tagliafico, and Nicolas Gonzalez in La Paz, but Messi's injury may be something of a concern.

WHAT THEY SAID: After the match, which was played at more than 3,000 metres above sea level, Scaloni told reporters: "He [Messi] wasn't ready to play. Yesterday he tried to recover and he didn't feel comfortable and we didn't take the risk.”

The Argentina boss added: “He wasn't fit. Yesterday in training we wanted him to try and he didn't even try."

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THE BIGGER PICTURE: Inter Miami are back in MLS action on Saturday against Atlanta United and if Messi is not fit, their outside chances of making the play-offs will be even more remote. Miami will, however, hope he is fit to take on the Houston Dynamo in the final of the U.S. Open Cup on September 27. He could also feature before then in the league when Miami face Toronto (September 21) and Orlando City (September 25).

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Lionel Messi Argentina 2023

Lionel Messi Inter Miami 2023

WHAT NEXT? Argentina, who have won their opening two 2026 World Cup qualifying games, are next in action against Paraguay and Peru on October 13 and 18 respectively. Messi will be expected to play a part in both matches if he returns to fitness quickly.