Paris Olympics: Will Lionel Messi represent world champions Argentina?

Argentina Under-23 manager Javier Mascherano has said the door is open for Lionel Messi to participate in the Paris Olympics this year.

Argentina confirmed their place at the Games with a 1-0 win over Brazil on Sunday in the final four of the South American qualifying tournament.

Highlighting the prospect of Messi, 36, touching down in Paris, his former Argentina and Barcelona team-mate Mascherano said: “Well, everyone knows my relationship with Leo, my friendship with him.

“I’ve always said that a player like Leo opens the door and then the invitation to come with us depends on him, his compromises, and his timing, but the invitation will be there.”

Inter Miami forward Messi, who led Argentina to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, won gold with the national team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The men’s football tournament at the Olympics occurs in July and August. Teams are allowed to include up to three overage players in their squad.

After Lionel Messi’s defeat, Chinese cities canceled Argentina’s matches

Sports bosses in China have canceled two friendly matches involving world champions Argentina.

The development comes after Lionel Messi failed to feature for his club Inter Miami in an exhibition match in Hong Kong recently.

Argentina had scheduled a tour of China from March 18 to 26, during which they were scheduled to face Nigeria in Hangzhou and Ivory Coast in Beijing.

But last week’s high-profile friendly in Hong Kong between Inter Miami and a selected XI drew criticism and calls for a refund after Messi missed the field citing injury.

Some nationalist politicians and outlets described the no-show in Inter Miami’s 4-1 win – and Messi’s subsequent appearance in a similar match in Japan – as a shock to China without providing evidence.

“Beijing is currently not planning to organize the match that Lionel Messi was scheduled to attend,” the Beijing Football Association, which oversees soccer in the capital, said in a press release on Saturday.

The Hangzhou match was already canceled on Friday evening.

“For reasons known to all, according to the competent authorities, the conditions for holding the event have not been met,” the Hangzhou Sports Bureau said.

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