Inter Miami superstar Lionel Messi left injured during the club’s victory against Nashville on Wednesday night. The World Cup winner recorded a goal and an assist within the opening 25 minutes of the CONCACAF Champions Cup matchup. With Miami cruising, manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino substituted Messi just five minutes into the second half.

The Argentine did not exactly appear injured and was able to walk off of the pitch without a limp. Nevertheless, Martino has now claimed that the star will likely miss an upcoming game against D.C. United due to a leg injury.

“I don’t want to take any risks but I imagine that he won’t be available for Saturday’s game,” Martino stated after the win. “That’s the only thing I can say about it now. We’ll have some tests soon and we’ll see how he feels.”

“Leo has a muscle overload in his right leg. We don’t want to take any kind of risk with him. We tried to see if he could last a little longer after halftime, but it was bothering him, so we preferred to take him out of the game.”

Messi’s national team set to play two friendlies in the coming weeks

The matchup with Nashville game just three days after Messi missed an MLS fixture against Montreal. The star, however, was not sidelined due to an injury. Instead, club officials gave Messi the night off to give him additional rest. Miami struggled without the playmaker and suffered their first loss of the current campaign.

The timing of the supposed injury is particularly interesting. Argentina is set to play two friendlies during the upcoming international break. The reigning world champions are first set to face El Salvador on March 22 in Philadelphia. A matchup with Costa Rica across the country in Los Angeles is then scheduled for March 26.

Although it has not been announced just yet, it seems likely that Messi will participate in these games. The 36-year-old star’s priority at the moment certainly appears to be being fully fit to help Argentina in the 2024 Copa America this summer. There is nothing wrong with this notion either, but transparency on the issue would certainly be refreshing from Martino and Miami.

Miami focused on selling tickets and helping MLS gain streaming subscriptions

The lack of transparency, however, likely has to do with selling tickets and grabbing MLS Season Pass subscriptions. Miami wants to sell as many tickets as possible, both home and away. World Soccer Talk reported last month that Messi would likely miss two league games because of the Argentina fixtures.

Nevertheless, Miami kept tight-lipped on the issue. Assuming the club previously announced Messi was unlikely to play against D.C. and New York Red Bulls, both of those matches wouldn’t have sold as many tickets as they have. In reality, both games are now sold out.

Messi’s “injury” saga has been ongoing since he joined the MLS side. It started in August 2023 after he helped Miami win the Leagues Cup. Messi didn’t play in the U.S. Open Cup Final. And ever since then, when it was clear that Miami wouldn’t reach the MLS Cup playoffs, it seems that Messi has been managing his minutes under the guise of an array of different injury issues.

This came to a head in the friendly in Hong Kong that Messi didn’t play in but was fit again to play a few days later in Tokyo. The issue then ignited a PR nightmare for Messi in China.

Often, we don’t know until the team sheets are announced if he’s certain to play or not. Part of the issue is that Messi himself benefits from this. Messi has a deal with Apple and MLS where he gets a percentage of overseas MLS Season Pass subscriptions. The greater the lack of communication about his playing time, the greater the likelihood that unsuspecting soccer fans will subscribe to MLS Season Pass with the hope and trust that he’ll play in those games.