Argentina arrived at Tokyo 2020 full of hope after collecting good results on their way to the Summer Olympics. La Albiceleste showed up at the ultimate sports event with a young squad full of promising talents, lacking more experienced players. Lionel Messi, one of the greatest of all time, is not representing his country at the Olympic Games.
Head Coach Fernando Batista has been doing a remarkable job with the U-23s. His team has succeeded at the 2019 Pan American Games at Lima and at the Conmebol Pre-Olympic tournament, where it clinched a spot at the current Olympics.
During Batista's tenure, many Argentine prodigies have emerged. But more importantly, he selected the same players frequently to have a good collective unit for the Olympics. Lionel Messi wasn't part of this process and he isn't involved at Tokyo 2020 either.
Lionel Messi won't be playing for Argentina at Tokyo 2020
Even though every national team is allowed to name up to three players over 24 years of age - the International Olympic Committee extended the age limit due to the tournament's postponement in 2020 - Fernando Batista only called up one, Jeremías Ledesma (28).
Lionel Messi is not playing at the Olympics for various reasons, but mainly because he has just participated in the 2021 Copa America, finally achieving his first international tournament with Argentina. Now he is currently on vacation to have a break after a demanding season with Barcelona and to get some rest before the 2021/22 campaign.
After helping Argentina win the gold medal at Beijing 2008, Messi has only participated with the senior national team. The U-23s are way behind him, not only due to his 34 years of age, but also because it's time for youngsters to have their chances to develop like the ones he had when he was younger. After all, Messi has already won a gold medal and his main priority was winning a trophy with Argentina's senior squad.