Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni believes “it is clear” that Lionel Messi will be part of Argentina’s Copa America squad this summer.
The Barcelona forward had his first outing for Argentina in nearly nine months during last Friday’s 3-1 friendly defeat to Venezuela, where he played the full 90 minutes at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
However, La Albiceleste were soon left sweating when Messi suffered a knock during the match and will now take no part in their upcoming friendly against Morocco on Tuesday.
But Scaloni is unconcerned over Messi’s lack of game time for Argentina over the past year and insisted the 31-year-old’s place in the Copa America squad is unquestionable.
“We have decided 80 per cent of the [squad] for the Copa America, we are missing three or four places,” said Scaloni, according to Fox Sports.
“In principle, Messi was at his maximum [against Venezuela], he got very involved in the group and he finished the game.
“We talked about the game, not the future. But it is clear that he will be at the Copa America.
“It’s something that we knew could happen in attack, we have to work so that does not happen, that each player is not attracted to Messi and understands that he is one more player that will help win the matches.”
21 places separate Argentina and Morocco in the FIFA World Rankings, but Scaloni is expecting a challenge nevertheless in Tangier and reminded everyone of the trouble they gave Spain and Portugal at the 2018 World Cup.
“Morocco are a great team that posed a lot of problems for Portugal and Spain in the World Cup,” said Scaloni.
“When I said that the players had to give more [after the defeat to Venezuela], I talked to them and they understood me.
“If everyone does what they do at their clubs we will be a better team. It went badly but it is better that it goes wrong now so we can avoid repeating it.”
Juventus striker Paulo Dybala will replace Messi in the starting line-up on Tuesday, while Gonzalo Montiel, Leandro Paredes and Lautaro Martinez will retain their spots.
The match between Morocco and Argentina will begin at 20:00 (CET).