Javier Mascherano has opened the door for Lionel Messi to play for Argentina at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.
Mascherano’s under-23 side beat the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists Brazil 1-0 at this week’s CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament to secure a quota for this year’s Games.
Olympic men’s football teams have to consist of under-23 players, however they are allowed to include up to three overage players.
After the Brazil match, former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder Mascherano was asked if he would be diving into his contacts book to bring in the likes of Messi and Angel Di Maria to increase their chances of success in the French capital.
“Everyone already knows my relationship with Leo [Messi] and with Angel [Di Maria]. We are friends.
“As a coach, I have an obligation to invite them,” he said.
Talking about the likelihood of it happening, Mascherano said: “But we also understand they have other commitments, and it will depend on that too.”
While Messi is awaiting the start of the new MLS season with Inter Miami, Di Maria is in the middle of a one-year contract at Benfica, where he has scored eight goals so far this season.
Despite their obligations at club level, Messi and Di Maria could be lured by the prospect of adding a second Olympic gold medal to their list of achievements – which, of course, includes being World Cup winners after their triumph in Qatar in 2022.
They both scored two goals en route to Argentina triumphing at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, with one of Di Maria’s proving to be the winner against Nigeria in the final.
Thinking about the prospect of Mascherano introducing the pair into his squad for the Games, current under-23 captain Thiago Almada is more than open to the idea.
“I hope Messi has the desire and can be at the Olympic Games, it would be a dream,” he said.