Lionel Messi to miss Saturday’s Inter Miami MLS game against Atlanta United

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Lionel Messi will miss a Major League Soccer match for the first time since joining Inter Miami as he will not feature against Atlanta United on Saturday.

The turf field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta did not play a role, the source said.

The 36-year-old’s arrival to the MLS sparked a debate in US soccer about the potential physical impact of playing on an artificial surface and there had been speculation in the build up to the match over whether he would play on a turf field.

However, at Messi’s introductory media conference with Miami he explained that his “youth was spent on artificial turf, my whole life was on that pitch.”

When he moved to Europe to play for Barcelona he would play on grass, but Messi added: “Truth is it’s been a while since I’ve played on artificial turf, but I have no problem adapting myself again.”

The seven-time Ballon d’Or award-winner, who did not play in Argentina’s World Cup qualifying win over Bolivia on Tuesday, did not travel with the club for Saturday’s match.

On Friday, Messi posted a picture on his Instagram stories account of a pizza order in Miami.

Organizers were expecting more than 70,000 spectators at the stadium to see the Argentinian phenom.

Inter Miami, on a nine-game winless run prior to Messi’s debut, is unbeaten in 11 games and captured its first trophy last month. Messi has featured in three MLS games so far this season.

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