Lionel Messi will reportedly miss Argentina's 2018 FIFA World Cup warm-up match against Spain on Tuesday evening due to a hamstring injury.
The Barcelona attacker was absent for La Albiceleste's 2-0 friendly victory over Italy, and ESPN FC's Samuel Marsden backed up a report from Juan Castro of Marca, which said Messi was a doubt to face Spain:
Marsden followed up, saying the 30-year-old's withdrawal appeared "more precautionary" than anything else, with Barcelona reportedly set to assess their forward when he returns from international duty this week.
"Muscle fatigue" in his hamstrings is cited as Messi's specific reason for reportedly sitting out Tuesday's fixture at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. Guillem Balague of Sky Sports noted there is "no serious injury" to the player.
Argentina will have wanted their main man back for the test against the 2010 world champions, but Ole previewed potential lineups with and without the magician, per football writer Peter Coates:
Messi led Argentina to the final of the 2014 World Cup, where they were beaten by Germany in Brazil. He will turn 31 by the end of this summer's tournament, and he told Fox Sports Argentina (h/t Sports Illustrated) it's "now or never," approaching what looks likely to be his last chance at the title:
"We feel that it's now or never. Because this is it, we have to think that this could be the last for this group of players. [The players] have a debt with ourselves. We don't owe the fans anything because we always give our 100 percent and we've reached three finals [from 2014].
"Right now we're not among the contenders to win the World Cup. There are much better teams like Spain, Germany, Brazil and France."
Spain goalkeeper David De Gea said in the buildup to Tuesday's clash that he was looking forward to testing himself against the best there is to offer, via Goal:
Messi spoke to TyC Sports (h/t Alex Wood of the Daily Star) before Friday's meeting with Italy and explained his ailment in further detail: "I have been suffering from this hamstring injury for some time. I always want to play, but the road to the World Cup is still long. We decided to wait for this game [against Italy] to rest, but I'm optimistic about playing against Spain."
Wood's report cited Diario Gol and also said Barcelona—11 points clear at La Liga's summit with nine matches remaining—have agreed to rest Messi in some league games ahead of the World Cup.
Both Barca boss Ernesto Valverde and Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli face a testing few months in handling the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's condition, with Messi still in the hunt for some of the biggest trophies in world football.