Now 36 years old and in the twilight of his career, Lionel Messi has proven he can still perform to close to his best as he tears Major League Soccer to shreds with his new club Inter Miami.
With age, however, comes a greater attention to his match fitness, and Inter Miami will be overly cautious with their superstar.
That was evident as Messi, who had already been rested on a number of occasions over the past week, was withdrawn in the 37th minute of Inter Miami’s eventual 4-0 win over Toronto FC on September 20. It’s the Argentinian’s first real injury bout with the American club, as he looked frustrated exiting the pitch.
While Inter Miami head coach Gerardo Martino downplayed the injury, calling it “fatigue” and indicating there were no signs of a muscle problem as of yet, it still called into question Messi’s ability to remain fully fit amidst a brutally clogged fixture schedule towards the end of the MLS season.
Messi would go on to miss the U.S. Open Cup final a week later, signaling larger concerns around Messi’s fitness and his availability for the stretch run of MLS regular season games.
Lionel Messi injury history
Lionel Messi has been incredibly resilient throughout his long and illustrious football journey, but even the most durable players will inevitably suffer their fair share of injuries over the course of such a career.
At the beginning of his career, Messi appeared to have issues with his hamstring, especially on his favored left foot, as a number of thigh injuries sidelined him for long stretches during the first five years of his career at Barcelona.
Since the start of 2016, however, he has been exceedingly injury averse, avoiding serious knocks at an incredible rate and managing to stay fit to log significant minutes for both club and country.
Lionel Messi’s major injuries
This list includes all injuries across Lionel Messi’s career that caused him to miss three or more games. All injury data via Transfermarkt.com. Does not include illness, lack of match fitness or rest.
- Calf strain: Oct. 5, 2022 — Oct. 13, 2022 (PSG, 3 matches)
- Knee injury: Oct. 29, 2021 — Nov. 11, 2021 (PSG, 3 matches)
- Calf injury: Aug. 5, 2019 — Sep. 16, 2019 (Barcelona, 4 matches — Argentina, 2 matches)
- Forearm fracture: Oct. 21, 2018 — Nov. 9, 2018 (Barcelona, 5 matches)
- Adductor tear: Sep. 22, 2016 — Oct. 15, 2016 (Barcelona, 4 matches — Argentina, 2 matches)
- MCL injury: Sep. 28, 2015 — Nov. 18, 2015 (Barcelona, 9 matches — Argentina, 4 matches)
- Hamstring tear: Nov. 10, 2013 — Jan. 6, 2014 (Barcelona, 9 matches — Argentina, 2 matches)
- Hamstring strain: Sep. 28, 2013 — Oct. 18, 2013 (Barcelona, 2 matches — Argentina, 2 matches)
- Hamstring strain: May 13, 2013 — Jun. 6, 2013 (Barcelona, 3 matches)
- Hamstring strain: Apr. 3, 2013 — Apr. 22, 2013 (Barcelona, 4 matches)
- Thigh injury: Mar. 4, 2008 — Apr. 10, 2008 (Barcelona, 8 matches — Argentina, 1 match)
- Hamstring strain: Dec. 17, 2007 — Jan. 14, 2008 (Barcelona, 6 matches)
- Foot fracture: Nov. 13, 2006 — Feb. 8, 2007 (Barcelona, 18 matches — Argentina, 1 match)
- Hamstring tear: Mar. 8, 2006 — May 21, 2006 (Barcelona, 17 matches)
Lionel Messi’s matches missed by club
All injury data via Transfermarkt.com. Does not include matches missed due to illness, lack of match fitness or rest. Does include national team games missed.
Lionel Messi subbed off with “fatigue” in Inter Miami win over Toronto
Lionel Messi was hauled off in the 37th minute of a September 20 match against Toronto FC, with the Argentinian icon looking clearly dejected as he departed.
Gerardo Martino said after the match that Messi was simply suffering from “fatigue” and that they do not believe it’s a muscle injury.
“[Messi and Jordi Alba] looked healthy in the last training sessions and we believed that they were fit to play,” Martino said. “From talking to them, what they have is related to those previous issues, it’s nothing new or bigger, it’s fatigue and I don’t think there’s any muscle injury”
The previous issues Martino is referring to was a slight injury suffered in the late stages of Argentina’s 1-0 win over Ecuador earlier this month to begin 2026 World Cup qualifying. He was withdrawn from that match in the 89th minute, and then was not involved against Bolivia before also being rested by Inter Miami against Atlanta United this past weekend.