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Messi rules out playing 2024 Olympics with Argentina

Messi, 36, is currently with Argentina preparing to defend their Copa America title in the United States

Messi rules out playing 2024 Olympics with Argentina
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Lionel Messi during Argentina's Copa America warm-up match last week in US

MIAMI: Lionel Messi has ruled out playing in this summer's Olympics with Argentina, saying it would be "too much" to play in Paris after representing his country at the Copa America.

Messi, 36, is currently with Argentina preparing to defend their Copa America title in the United States. Argentina plays the opening game against Canada on June 20, with the final taking place July 14.

The men's Olympic tournament runs from July 24 to Aug. 9. While for men it is primarily an under-23 event, three overage players are allowed for each team, leading to much discussion that Messi could feature. However, the Inter Miami star told ESPN Argentina in an exclusive interview airing Wednesday that he has informed Argentina U23 coach Javier Mascherano that it will not be possible.

"I talked to Mascherano and the truth is we both understood the situation," he said. "It's hard [to think about the Olympics right now] because we're in Copa America. It would be two, three straight months of not being with the club, and more than anything I'm not at an age to be in everything.

"I have to choose carefully, and it would be too much to play two straight tournaments. I've been very lucky to play in the Olympics, of winning it together with Masche. It was a wonderful experience on a football level. Olympics, U20, memories I'll never forget.

"It's spectacular to be fortunate enough to go through all that. I hope that the guys who get to go enjoy it in the same way that I did because it's special. The Olympics are special, different from anything else."

Messi could miss at least five Inter Miami games while with Argentina at the Copa America and would miss several more, including the Leagues Cup that Miami won last year, if he headed to the Olympics.

Miami coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino, who is set to be without multiple other players due to this summer's tournaments, has previously said that players must choose between playing either the Copa America or the Olympics.

A record eight-time Ballon d'Or winner, Messi won Olympic gold with Argentina alongside Mascherano in 2008 in Beijing and has since gone on to complete a full set of international titles with the Copa America in 2021 and World Cup in 2022.

Agencies
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