Lionel Messi Will Play at Copa America, Confirms Argentina Coach Lionel Scaloni

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 22: Lionel Messi reacts during the International Friendly match between Argentina and Venezuela at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on March 22, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images) (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Lionel Messi will play for Argentina at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, according to Albiceleste manager Lionel Scaloni. 

Messi made his first international appearance since the 2018 FIFA World Cup last week, but he could not prevent Argentina falling to a 3-1 friendly loss to Venezuela:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Venezuela have beaten Argentina for just the second time in their history; the first time by two clear goals. LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLWLLDDW Lionel Messi's first game back has not gone as planned. 😳 https://t.co/zwCXcFIHr0

The Barcelona superstar also picked up a groin injury, meaning he will not be available for Tuesday's meeting with Morocco.

However, Scaloni has confirmed Messi will be part of the squad for the summer's Copa America, per Reuters (h/t Football Italia):

"Leo will be in Copa America. It is evident he will be. He showed maximum will here, and we see he is very driven. When the match against Venezuela finished, we talked about the match, not about what is to come. We will work to get a better team.

"Too much dependence on Messi? We have to work for that not to happen, for every player not to be always drawn to Leo, he will help us win matches, that's for sure."

MADRID, SPAIN - MARCH 22: Lionel Scaloni of Argentina in action during the international friendly match between Argentina and Venezuela at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on March 22, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Messi, 31, has suffered disappointment in three previous editions of the Copa America when Argentina lost in the finals of the 2007, 2015 and 2016 tournaments.

He also came up short of achieving international glory at the 2014 FIFA World Cup when his side lost in the final to Germany.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has achieved just about everything in his glittering career, winning 32 major honours with Barcelona.

However, a major international trophy has eluded him thus far—with his only title being a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.

This summer's Copa America could be his last chance to change that, although there is another edition of the South American tournament in Colombia in 2020.

Messi briefly called time on his international career after losing in the 2016 Copa America final to Chile, Argentina's third major final defeat in as many years.

He returned on that occasion to help his country qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

But if Argentina fail to go all the way in Brazil, Messi's time on the international stage may be up.

The 2019 Copa America kicks off on June 14, and Argentina are in Group B with Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar.