Messi fit for Argentina qualifiers, says Scaloni

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has moved to allay fears about the fitness of Lionel Messi, ensuring he will be ready for the Albiceleste's World Cup

qualifiers against Uruguay and Brazil.

Argentina's Lionel Messi (L) attends a training session ahead of an international friendly match against Australia at Workers' Stadium in Beijing, capital of China, June 14, 2023. (Xinhua/Jia Haocheng)

Messi, 36, has not played since October 21, when his Inter Miami team suffered a 1-0 defeat to Charlotte in the final match day of the Major League Soccer regular season.

"Messi is fine, he is doing well. Even though he's played one game in the last 25 days, he's been training normally, he's fit and well," Scaloni told reporters on Wednesday.

Reigning world champions Argentina will meet Uruguay at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires on Thursday and Brazil at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium next Tuesday.

Scaloni said he was nonplussed by those who claimed Messi was undeserving of his eighth Ballon d'Or trophy last month.

"I don't understand it," he said. "I think the criticism is made so that there is a debate, although I don't think there is grounds for one. The good thing is that he won the Ballon d'Or so that's where the matter ends."

Argentina are currently top of the 10-team South American qualifying group with four wins from as many games, five points ahead of second-placed Uruguay.