Report: Messi to skip upcoming Argentina friendlies in U.S.

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Fans of the Argentine National Team will get an early chance to see what life is like “after Messi” in the Albiceleste’s upcoming friendlies next month.

According to a report out of Argentina, Lionel Messi will be left off Argentina’s upcoming squad for a pair of matches in the U.S., and could stay away from the national team through the end of the year, if not until next summer’s Copa America. Argentina will face Guatemala at the Los Angeles Coliseum on September 7 and Colombia on September 11 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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Argentina has a major rebuild to undertake with the national team after a disappointing World Cup in Russia. The Argentine FA has yet to hire a new coach, with Lionel Scaloni and Pablo Aimar taking charge in the interim as co-coaches, and 15 of the 23 players at the 2018 World Cup are 30-and over, making it likely most won’t feature for Argentina at the next tournament in Qatar.

Argentine newspaper Diario Ole mused about some of the new names we could see in Argentina’s upcoming squad. Some of the younger members of the World Cup squad could stay, including Christian Pavon, Giovani Lo Celso and Paulo Dybala. But we could also see the introductions of Lautaro Martinez,  Gerónimo Rulli and Santiago Ascacíbar in addition to the return of Mauro Icardi, Leandro Paredes and Ramiro Funes Mori.

Argentina will have about 10 months to figure out its identity before the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, whether or not Messi is there. After so many years struggling at the youth level, Argentina is paying for it now with a poor crop of players compared to the national team’s history, and they’ll need to ask hard questions of themselves on how to rebuild.

In a way, it makes sense for Messi to recover and focus on his season at Barcelona before coming back to Argentina in 2019. It does him or the national team no good to have him there over the next nine months, taking the spot of a guy who will need to gain some valuable experience.