·14 September 2023
·14 September 2023
Current Time 0:00
Despite not being included in Argentina's match day squad for their game against Bolivia recently, Lionel Messi was spotted on the team's bench watching proceedings unfold from there. Now usually, players who aren't involved in the squad on a particular match day are forced to watch the game from the stands among the spectators, but the former Barcelona man is different. There's a very good reason for his appearance on the bench too.
In the World Cup qualifier against Bolivia, Argentina showed they didn't rely solely on their icon to get the job done, beating Gustavo Costas' side 3-0 on the day through goals from Enzo Fernandez, Nicolas Tagliafico and Nicolas Gonzalez. The result continues Argentina's unbeaten start to the qualifications, with a 1-0 win over Ecuador earlier in the week seeing Messi lead his team to victory with an incredible free-kick to seal the win.
So after scoring against Ecuador just days earlier, why wasn't the Argentine superstar included in the squad against Bolivia and why was he then allowed on the bench despite his exclusion? Here's why.
Following his move to Inter Miami this summer, things have been a little intense for Messi, and he has been churning out some incredible, but undeniably tough and taxing performances. He's hit the ground running in MLS and has already made a huge impact for the club, scoring 11 times and creating five assists in his first 11 games for the side.
After a poor start to the season, Miami are unbeaten since Messi joined the side and have already won their first bit of silverware with him, the Leagues Cup. Inevitably, the hard work had taken its toll on the 36-year-old, and he came to an agreement with Argentina coach, Lionel Scaloni that he'd miss the game. The manager, clearly unwilling to risk running his talisman into the ground had no problem agreeing to rest Messi and the side played the game without his involvement on the pitch. He did manage to get involved somewhere, though.
There's no denying just how important Messi has been to Argentina over the years. His record for his country speaks for itself, and he finally managed to lead them to World Cup glory last winter in one of the most remarkable World Cup finals ever. There are few players as beloved by their country as the 36-year-old is, so while he didn't play against Bolivia, he still wanted to be involved somehow.
Messi's record for Argentina is impeccable, as his stats demonstrate in this table.
His career on the pitch has been one of the greatest of all time, but it seems Messi may be gearing up for one on the sidelines as he was included in Argentina's match day set up as a coach. That's right, the star was included on the team's bench as he was acting as a coach rather than as a player, and it gave him the chance to get involved from that side of things, according to TNT Sport (per Spanish outlet AS).
Whether that means his future includes a spell as a coach or manager, or he simply just found a loophole to join his nation from the thick of things, we don't know. Still, if he turned out to be half as good at coaching as he has been throughout his career on the pitch, we'd have a pretty special manager on our hands.