Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami status remains in doubt ahead of final playoff push | Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was on the practice field with Inter Miami on Tuesday, though it remains unclear when, or if, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will play again this season.

Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino declined to provide any timetable regarding Messi when he spoke with reporters before the practice session.

The team – who are still trying to make Major League Soccer’s playoffs – play in Chicago on Wednesday. Messi has been listed as day to day for much of the past month and has barely played in that span.

The 36-year-old has missed four of Inter Miami’s last five matches, plus another for Argentina in that span because of what was initially called fatigue, by both his club and country. The only game he didn’t miss during that stretch was a 37-minute appearance against Toronto on 20 September, and he had to leave that match before half-time because of a hamstring problem.

Messi made an appearance Monday night at the team’s stadium for a promotional event. He was not made available for comment to most media outlets that were in attendance at the event, and no update on his injury was provided.

Inter Miami enter the week 13th in the Eastern Conference, four places and four points out of the last playoff spot from that side of MLS. A loss on Wednesday would not eliminate Inter Miami from the playoff mix, but it would put a significant dent in the team’s postseason hopes.

After the match in Chicago, Inter Miami have three MLS games remaining – Saturday at home against Cincinnati, a rescheduled match at home against Charlotte on 18 October and the finale at Charlotte on 21 October.

Messi has scored 11 goals in 12 matches for Inter Miami this season. The team have won eight, lost four and lost zero when Messi plays; seven of those matches were on the team’s run to winning their first-ever trophy by claiming the Leagues Cup championship. Another was in the US Open Cup semi-final.

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Messi has one goal in four MLS matches and has been an instant phenomenon, as would be expected – with his jersey already the bestselling in the league in 2023, even though it wasn’t available for sale until mid-July.

Inter Miami have won once, drawn twice and lost twice in their five matches without Messi since he joined the club.