Lionel Messi is hurting, but we don’t yet know whether he’s injured.
The soccer superstar limped out of Argentina’s 1-0 win over Honduras on Friday, casting doubt over his status for Copa America 2016, which kicks off next week in the United States.
Honduras’ Oliver Morazan kneed Messi in the back during an accidental collision, leaving the Argentina forward writhing in pain. Messi left the game in the 64th minute and did not return to the field.
Following Friday’s Copa America warm-up game, Reuters reported that Argentina said on Twitter that Messi had “suffered bruising on the left of his lower back and ribs.”
Argentina’s national-team doctor elaborated on Messi’s condition Saturday.
“We did a scan on him at the stadium and then took him to do an ultrasound and an MRI,” Dr. Daniel Martinez said, according to The Mirror. “Thankfully we didn’t find any bone damage or fractures but there is a large contusion.
“There’s inflammation around the back of his ribcage and in the soft tissue. The pain is making it difficult to move normally, to turn, to cough.
“He was in intense pain on the field. The most worrying thing was the pain because, as I said, it was intense.
“Sometimes being warm means you don’t feel anything but here was the complete opposite: Messi was in a lot of pain.”
Martinez concluded on an upbeat note.
“These guys sometimes have really quick recoveries,” he said. “They’re young and they’re healthy.”
The Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter said Messi apparently is taking it easy Saturday.
Argentina will begin Copa America play against Chile on June 6 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The game is a rematch of last year’s final, which Chile won on penalty kicks, and a healthy Messi boosts Argentina’s chances of winning that game and the tournament.
Oddsmakers have tabbed Argentina as the favorite to win the competition.
Messi has dominated club soccer for a decade with FC Barcelona, but he has yet to win a major tournament with Argentina since making his debut in 2005. Argentina’s trophy drought stretches from 1993 to the present.
Martinez’s update suggests Messi will play at Copa America 2016, but time will tell whether he’ll be 100 percent healthy during the three-week-long tournament.
Thumbnail photo via Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport/USA TODAY Sports Images