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Messi won't play at Rio Olympics, Argentina coach says

Europe
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Buenos Aires (dpa) - Lionel Messi will not play at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August because he will need a rest after the Centennial Copa America set for June, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said.

Martino told local radio La Red on Monday that the June 3-26 Copa in the United States is more important than the Olympics, and that he also needs Messi fresh for the World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign, with six games set between September 1 and November 15.

In addition, the 28-year-old Messi also has many matches in all competitions for European champions and Spanish league leaders Barcelona.

The Rio Olympics start on August 5. Messi won gold with Argentina at the 2008 Games in Beijing and could have been picked for Rio as one of three older players eligible to join what is an under-23 event.

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