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Will Lionel Messi play for Inter Miami against Atlanta United in MLS after missing Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia?

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  • Inter Miami star to miss trip to Georgia
  • Messi left out of Bolivia clash

  • Martino plays down injury fears

WHAT HAPPENED? The Albiceleste captain, who missed his side's second 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier following a victory he inspired over Ecuador during the international break, has not made the trip to Georgia with the rest of the Miami squad.

His absence for the last game of the international break had set alarm bells ringing that he may not be fit for their run-in across the final few weeks of the season, though head coach Gerardo Martino played down concerns he would be set for a lengthy lay-off on Friday.

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WHAT WAS SAID: Speaking ahead of his side's road game, Martino said that the veteran forward was "fine" and stressed the importance of ensuring he is well-rested for further fixtures, adding: "We will be careful with him because we have a lot of important games in a short span."

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni previously cast doubt on Messi's fitness in his post-match comments against Bolivia, stating: "He wasn't ready to play. Yesterday he tried to recover and he didn't feel comfortable and we didn't take the risk."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: So far, officials at both Inter Miami and Argentina have sidestepped questions over the nature of Messi's injury, though Martino's assurances that he could return imminently suggests it is not serious.

The forward, who joined the club mid-term at the end of the European football campaign, has not had a true off-season, and led his side to Leagues Cup glory across a heavily congested schedule, which suggests the move to keep the 36-year-old out may just be precautionary at this stage.

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WHAT'S NEXT FOR MESSI? Inter Miami fans will miss seeing the World Cup winner against Atlanta, but with his absence likely to be a short one, he should be back for their next MLS fixture at home against Toronto on September 20.