Lionel Messi Won't Participate at 2016 Olympics According to Gerardo Martino

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2016

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 08:  Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina during a international friendly against Mexico at AT&T Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Argentina coach Gerardo Martino has stated that Lionel Messi will not be part of the nation’s Olympic soccer team.

The games are set to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer, but the football tournament is likely to go ahead without the Barcelona star, according to the Albiceleste boss, who was speaking to Radio La Red (h/t Reuters via Yahoo):

Messi won't go to the Olympic Games because there is a lot of competition for the national team this year. We have the Copa America, the Olympic Games and after that four rounds of the qualifiers

The reality at Barcelona shows the season will be long. I want to win very much but not at any price, nor for throwing the players on to the pitch for them to die there.

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 04:  Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina chats with his coach Gerardo Martino prior to entering their International friendly match against Bolivia at BBVA Compass Stadium on September 4, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

It’s certainly set to be a busy summer for the Argentina man. As Martino noted, there is a lot of football to be played on the international stage when the domestic campaign finishes and Messi, as the Argentina captain, was expected to play a critical role in all of the tournaments. However, it seems as though Martino is wary of his star man suffering burnout.

Messi hasn’t played as many games for Barcelona as he usually would this term, having sat out a couple of months with injury. Nevertheless, as we can see here courtesy of 101 Great Goals, the 28-year-old forward has definitely played his part:

The Blaugrana seem set for another flourish to finish the season with the trio in situ, but Messi will be keen to savour success with his country, too. After all, in the last two summers, Argentina have lost in two major finals, with defeat at the final stage of the World Cup in 2014 and the Copa America last summer.

Messi will be keen to steer his country to success in a major tournament.
Messi will be keen to steer his country to success in a major tournament.RODRIGO ARANGUA/Getty Images

The Olympics definitely would have been an intriguing competition for Messi to take part in. After all, he inspired Argentina to success in this tournament in 2008; here’s a reminder of his virtuoso display in the final eight years ago against Nigeria:

But as Martino alluded to, too much football can’t be good for Messi. Of the two tournaments, while they each hold a degree of prestige, it’s the Copa America, celebrating its 100-year anniversary, that the Argentina fans would surely prefer to win.

The Olympics is an idea occasion for younger players to take centre stage. In the final in 2008, the likes of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta all took part, and the competition in Brazil in the summer will be an ideal opportunity for Albiceleste supporters to get a glimpse at the next generation in competitive action.