Will Lionel Messi play at Soldier Field Wednesday during Inter Miami’s match against the Chicago Fire?
It’s the million-dollar question on thousands of fans minds.
Although Messi, 36, was on the practice field with Inter Miami Tuesday, it still remains unclear when or if the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will play with the team again this season.
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, Messi’s status still remained a mystery.
“The Chicago Fire are excited to host Inter Miami CF at Soldier Field this week,” a statement from the Chicago Fire read. “While we don’t yet know the official status of Lionel Messi’s availability for our match tomorrow, as there’s never a guarantee that an athlete will play on any given night due to several factors.
The statement also acknowledged that fans, many of whom have not seen a Chicago Fire game at Soldier Field, may be “disappointed” should they miss the chance to see Messi play in the much-anticipated match.
“To show our appreciation, the Chicago Fire will be offering a $250 account credit toward new memberships for the 2024 season – or a $50 account credit for anyone unable to use the new member credit – to all single-game ticket buyers who attend our match vs. Inter Miami regardless of which players are able to make an appearance on the pitch,” the statement continued.
The Chicago Fire did not immediately respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment on what an “account credit” can be used towards, or how credits will be managed for tickets that are resold.
According to the post, more than 61,000 tickets to the match have been distributed.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the match was sold out, or the capacity of a Chicago Fire match at Soldier Field holds.
Latest Messi injury update
Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino declined to provide any timetable regarding Messi when he spoke with reporters before the practice session.
The team — which is still trying to make Major League Soccer’s playoffs — plays at Chicago on Wednesday. Messi has been listed as day to day for much of the past month and barely has played in that span.
The 36-year-old Messi has missed four of Inter Miami’s last five matches, plus another for Argentina in that span because of what was first called fatigue — by both his club and country — and has evolved from there. The only game he didn’t miss during that stretch was a 37-minute appearance against Toronto on Sept. 20, and he had to leave that match before halftime because of a hamstring issue.
Messi made an appearance Monday night at the team’s stadium to promote the launch of a children’s menu bearing his name at some Hard Rock properties around the world. He was not made available for comment to most media outlets that were in attendance at the event, and no update on his injury was provided.
Inter Miami enters the week 13th in the Eastern Conference, four spots and four points out of the last playoff spot from that side of MLS. A loss on Wednesday would not eliminate Inter Miami from the playoff mix, but it would put a significant dent in the team’s postseason hopes.
After that match at Chicago, Inter Miami has three MLS games remaining — Saturday at home against Cincinnati, a rescheduled match at home against Charlotte on Oct. 18 and the finale at Charlotte on Oct. 21.
Messi has 11 goals in 12 matches with Inter Miami this season. The team is 8-0-4 when he plays; seven of those matches were on the team’s run to winning its first-ever trophy by claiming the Leagues Cup championship and another was in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal.
He has one goal in four MLS matches and has been an instant phenomenon, as would be expected — with his jersey already the best-selling in the league in 2023, even though it wasn’t available for sale until mid-July.
Inter Miami is 1-2-2 in its five matches without Messi since he joined the club.