SAN JOSE, Calif., June 6 (UPI) -- Uncertainty surrounds the world's best soccer player as Argentina prepares Monday to take on Chile at Levi's Stadium in Copa America Centenario.
Despite fans traveling far to see Lionel Messi in action, the Barcelona forward is not expected to start. But hope remains behind Messi being a substitute in the 10 p.m. match.
Messi injured his back in a friendly May 27 against Honduras. He took a knee to his torso on the play and was subbed off in the 64th minute. Tests showed a "deep bone bruise in his lower lumbar region," according to ESPN FC.
Messi reunited with Argentina Friday, after being in Spain for his tax-evasion trial.
Argentina manager Gerardo Martino said that Nicolas Gaitan will likely play for Messi.
Spanish daily Diaro AS says that Messi won't play at all in the match.
"Although the medical teams were cautious about confirming one way or the other too early on, they have made the decision based on the physical condition of the player who they want to be a major part of the rest of the tournament and didn't want to take any risks," Veronica Brunati wrote for Diaro AS.
"According to the medical team, the Barcelona star is still feeling pain in his lower back so will sit out Monday evening training just as he did on Sunday," Brunati reported.
Messi could be added to the list of athletes who fans were looking to see in the tournament, but didn't show up. Brazil held out stars Neymar Jr., Marcelo, David Luiz, Douglas Costa, and Thiago Silva. Argentina also is without Carlos Tevez, Javier Pastore, and Paulo Dybala. Chile is missing Jorge Valdivia.