Argentina captain Lionel Messi admitted he would have liked play at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after he was left out of the squad in favour of the Copa America Centenario.
Coach Gerardo Martino opted against making Messi – who won gold at the Beijing Games in 2008 – compete at both June’s Copa America and the Olympics in August.
Martino stressed that the Barcelona star agreed with the decision, but Messi conceded he is disappointed not be involved for the campaign in Brazil.
“I would have liked to go because it was a spectacular experience for me to play in the  Olympics, just as it was for the  U20 World Cup,” Messi told ESPN.
“Not just because we won, but for the experience I gained.
“It was a great experience to stay in the Olympic Village and meet other elite athletes from other sports and to be just another athlete among them; that was very spectacular even though we didn’t spend a lot of time in the village.”
Messi, who is on the cusp of another La Liga title heading into the final round of the season, added: “World Cup is great but Olympics are something special.”
Argentina – runners-up to Chile at last year’s Copa America – will now have a fully-focused Messi at their disposal as they bid to win the competition for the first time since 1993.
The 14-time champions – drawn in Group D – will face defending champions Chile in a rematch of the 2015 final on June 6 in the United States, followed by games against Panama (June 10) and Bolivia (June 14).
“It is a new Copa, different. Very nice in the United States and very different from what I have played before because of the people, the stadiums,” Messi said.
“That will make it different and for us, a new chance.”
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