Will an injured Lionel Messi play for Argentina in October for World Cup 2026 qualifiers?


Lionel Messi’s fitness has been the talk of the town since he was withdrawn in the 89th minute of Argentina’s home win over Ecuador in mid-September.

After sitting out the trip to Bolivia, Messi returned to club duty with Inter Miami but was pulled off in the 37th minute of his first game against FC Toronto. Since then, he has played four straight games, including the US Open Cup final against the Houston Dynamo, none of which ended in a win for Inter Miami.

So it was somewhat of a surprise to see Lionel Messi’s name on Argentina’s roster in the October international window. The reigning world champions await 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Paraguay and Peru in the coming two weeks.

Sporting News details what role Messi will play for his country in the upcoming matches and whether he will see the pitch despite not playing for his club in recent weeks.

Will Lionel Messi play for Argentina in October?

Lionel Messi was included amongst the crowded 34-man squad for Argentina’s two October matches against Paraguay and Peru.

The defending World Cup champions started 2026 qualifying with wins over Ecuador and Bolivia in the opening round of fixtures last month. They will continue CONMEBOL qualification by hosting Paraguay on October 12 before a trip to Peru five days later.

The 34 players called in is a huge amount, with head coach Lionel Scaloni dipping deep into his player pool for the international break. Amongst the names is 21-year-old Facundo Farias, Messi’s teammate at Inter Miami, who has never before been called up to the senior national team.

At first it was unclear whether Messi will actually play for Argentina in these two matches, given that he had played just 37 minutes for Inter Miami across their past five fixtures since the previous international break. However, it now seems that he is likely to take part in both matches as long as no new issues crop up.

Messi participated in full training with his teammates on Tuesday, October 10 and looks set to play a key role for the national team against Paraguay on Thursday.

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