Argentine star Lionel Messi missed Inter Miami's training ahead of the US Open final against Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, while his return to action is a doubt due to a mysterious injury that the team has yet to disclose.
Miami is seeking to win its second consecutive title since Messi joined its ranks this summer from Paris Saint-Germain, after winning the League Cup for American and Mexican clubs last month.
Messi, the 2022 World Cup winner, missed Sunday's 1-1 draw against Orlando City, while his compatriot Inter coach Gerardo Martino confirmed his condition would be assessed "on a daily basis".
It remains unclear whether the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner is simply suffering from fatigue due to the intensity of matches since joining the club last July, or whether he suffers from a chronic injury.
Leo 🤝 Leo
Leo Messi to Leo Campana to make it 3-0!#LAFCvMIA | 0-3 pic.twitter.com/3qJUMiC6Te
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) September 4, 2023
Martino: old scars
Martino reinforced the uncertainty of Messi's future by referring to the "old scars" that are holding back the former Barcelona star, without mentioning any specific injury.
Also absent from the training session, along with Messi, was his former Barcelona teammate Jordi Alba.
Martino decided not to participate Alba, while keeping doubts about Messi in an interview with the media on Tuesday, saying: "Jordi I don't think so, it's difficult, but Leo we will wait until tomorrow (Wednesday), we will wait for the last minute to make a decision."
The former Barcelona coach stressed that Messi's participation, if it happens, "is exclusively related to the final, if it is one of 34 games (in the league) we will not risk it. It makes sense to wait, if it's about any other type of game, I don't think we're going to take that kind of risk."
Messi was substituted during Argentina's match with the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador due to injury also (French)
Messi has been struggling since being substituted in the 88th minute during Argentina's match in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers after scoring the only goal from a direct free kick in the victory over Ecuador on the seventh of September.
He missed the world champions' win in Bolivia with a clean treble after 5 days in the second round of qualifying, before returning to his club after the international break. He did not play again during Miami's 2-5 league defeat to Atlanta on June 16, with Martino saying he was suffering from muscle fatigue.
The Argentine star's problems continued, as despite his participation in the Miami home match against Toronto, he asked for his replacement in the 38th minute.
Miami has 5 games left in the MLS season after the cup final in its quest to qualify for the knockout rounds, as Saturday hosts the last ninth-placed New York City FC qualifying for the "playoffs" and is 5 points ahead of Martino's team.