Lionel Messi admitted he is concerned about the coronavirus situation as the superstar captain targets a long-awaited title with Argentina at the Copa America.
Messi’s Argentina will open their Copa America campaign against rivals Chile in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Monday.
Brazil is hosting the Copa after CONMEBOL controversially removed Argentina and Colombia as co-hosts due to respective political and COVID-19 issues.
Despite being one of the country’s worst hit by the coronavirus health crisis, Brazil was awarded hosting duties for this year’s showpiece event, which was already pushed back a year because of COVID-19.
Defending champions Brazil won 3-0 on Sunday against a Venezuela side that had reported 12 positive coronavirus tests amongst their ranks earlier in the week.
Speaking on the eve of Argentina’s first match, Messi told reporters: “We are concerned about the situation because it is a risk for all of us to catch COVID-19.
“Although we try to take care of ourselves and do everything they tell us is not easy, because then these things happen and we face other national teams where there is a risk of contagion.
“We will try to do our best so that it does not happen to us, but this does not depend only on us and anything can happen.”
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 13, 2021
Despite his remarkable Barcelona success, Messi is yet to win a senior trophy with Argentina following back-to-back runners-up performances at the Copa America 2015 and 2016, having also fallen short in the 2007 final against Brazil.
La Albiceleste and six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi also lost in the 2014 World Cup decider – beaten by Germany.
“I always said that I am available to try to be with the national team and give my best,” the 33-year-old Messi said.
“My biggest dream is to achieve something with the Argentina, I was close many times and unfortunately it was not given to me, but I will try to keep looking for it until it is given to me.
“If the coach who is there thinks that I can continue contributing to the team, I will always want to be there and fight for that dream. I was lucky to win everything with my club and individually, and it would be very nice to win something with the national team.”
Messi was directly involved in 50 goals (38 scored, 12 assisted) in 47 games for Barca in 2020-21. Only three players in Europe’s top-five leagues managed more.
He has now recorded 25-plus goals in each his past 12 league seasons, while the veteran scored 11 LaLiga goals direct following a ball carry last season – the most of any player in Europe’s top-five leagues.