Lionel Messi, the world’s most dynamic soccer player, will not play in FC Barcelona’s friendly against Manchester United on Saturday night at FedEx Field, the Spanish club announced Monday.
His omission did not come as a surprise; Barcelona had said all along that Messi would be given time off following his participation with Argentina’s national team in the Copa America this month.
With Argentina’s unexpected elimination in the quarterfinals, speculation grew that Messi would rejoin Barcelona in time for the preseason U.S. tour, which also includes matches against Mexican clubs Chivas and Club America in Miami and Dallas, respectively.
However, Messi was not included on the 25-player travel roster released by Barcelona. The club’s other South American players involved in Copa America were also left out: Brazil’s Dani Alves, one of the world’s top right backs; newly acquired Chilean wing Alexis Sanchez; Argentina’s Javier Mascherano and Gabriel Milito; and Brazil’s Adriano Correia.
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Nine players from Barcelona’s B squad were invited, including Mexico’s Jonathan Dos Santos, a 21-year-old midfielder.
Top players on the trip include goalkeeper Victor Valdes, defender Gerard Pique, midfielders Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets; and forwards David Villa and Pedro. Captain Carles Puyol is also on the list but recovering from a knee injury.
Barcelona will play in the Audi Cup in Munich on Tuesday and Wednesday, joining Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Internacional (Brazil), before flying to Washington.
Manchester United will play the MLS all-stars Wednesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.
THE BARCELONA R OSTER
Goalkeepers: Victor Valdes, Jose Manuel Pinto, Jordi Masip.
Defenders: Carles Puyol, Marc Muniesa, Gerard Pique, Ivan Balliu, Oriol Rosell, Maxwell, Andreu Fontas, Eric Abidal.
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Seydou Keita, Marti Riverola, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta, Carlos Carmona, Xavi Hernandez, Jonathan Dos Santos.
Forwards: Isaac Cuenca, Jonathan Soriano, Ibrahim Afellay, Jeffren Suarez, Pedro, David Villa.