Argentina boss: Why I left Messi out

World News

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni has explained why he left Lionel Messi out of his latest squad ahead of the country's upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. 

With the Albiceleste having already secured their spot at this year's competition in Qatar, Scaloni has taken a big decision in omitting captain Messi from his selection for the team's matches against Chile and Colombia on 28 January and 2 February, respectively. 

Argentina are one of only two South American sides – Brazil being the other – that have already booked their spot at the global tournament, with the upcoming edition set to be Messi's fifth World Cup participation.

Scroll through the gallery below to see the 13 nations that have already secured a spot at the 2022 World Cup

A further three World Cup spots remain up for grabs for South American nations, and Scaloni has refused to risk Messi in the upcoming games as the player continues his recovery following a positive case of the coronavirus.

"Clearly we would love to have Messi here with us," Scaloni told reporters on Wednesday, per Marca. 

"I spoke to him and he told me that COVID hit him hard.  

"It is key for him to get well, and that is why I decided that the best option was for him to stay at his club." 

Read: Neymar: I was in tears at Barca, Messi helped me

Messi's club Paris Saint-Germain are understood to be delighted with this decision as they are counting on the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, who featured for the first time this year in a 27-minute cameo against Reims last Sunday, for their titanic UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash with Spanish giants Real Madrid in February. 

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