Argentine coach Martino against Messi doing Olympics duty

Buenos Aires, Jan 11 (IANS) Argentina coach Gerardo Martino has claimed that calling up Lionel Messi to take part in the Rio Olympic Games would risk burning the star out, with the striker already billed to grace the centenary edition of the Copa America this year.

“Exposing Leo by using him in another competition after all the football he’s played would be overkill, in my opinion. It would come back to haunt us in terms of what we have in store in the second half of the year”, Martino said on Sunday when asked about the possibility of Messi playing in the August 5-21 scheduled Olympics in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

“I see it as more important for them to be in good shape for World Cup qualifying, for them to be able to spend pre-season with their clubs and have a break after the Copa America”, the 53-year-old concluded.

“Common sense dictates that he and other players in his position should only feature in the Copa America”, the former FC Barcelona coach said.

He though admitted to not having discussed the subject with Messi or the other big names he is planning to spare at the Olympics.

“Considering the amount of football in their legs, because many of our most important players reach the latter stages of international competitions having played a lot of games, I think it’s only logical to take the weight of having to play in both the Copa América and the Olympics off their shoulders”, Martino explained.

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