Soccer world holds out hope Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe play in Paris Olympics

Though nothing is certain with a competition that is still months away, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe may have the opportunity to face each other this summer on a world stage.

The Paris Olympic Games could be the landing spot for a showdown between Messi and Mbappe. Two years after their confrontation in the World Cup final, the stars have been linked to a meeting in France. And with qualifying secure, one of the major hurdles preventing this clash has been removed.

“I’ve always wanted to play in the Olympic Games, but it’s not up to me to decide. My team decides,” Mbappe said at a press conference last month. “It would be a pleasure to participate in the event. The final decision lies with my club, but if my team doesn’t want to, then so be it.”

Soccer fans are hoping the former Paris Saint-Germain teammates will see eye to eye again and will continue the tense rivalry.

Argentina defeated Brazil in an Olympic qualifier last month, escaping with a 1-0 decision. As a result, Argentina will join host France in the Games.

What that means for Messi, however, remains to be seen. He has the chance to compete for his country in this competition 16 years after winning gold in Beijing. But with Inter Miami CF expected to compete for a title this season, Messi may ultimately decide to stay in South Florida.

Nonetheless, coach Javier Mascherano was more than happy to extend Messi an invite.

“It’s Messi. He always plays at the highest level. We’ve sent him an invitation,” Mascherano said in a press conference last month. “But it is not our intention to bother him or pressure him. We will give him all the time he needs to think about all his options and to talk with his club as well.”

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe takes his seat on the substitutes bench ahead of the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Reims at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, France, Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

For Mbappe, this will be his first Olympics, if he participates. But his schedule is also quite clogged. Team France will compete in the European Championship in Germany first.

“I want to write my name in the history of the French team as a player who mattered,” he said in a recent interview with GQ magazine. “It will mean the world to me. The idea of competing at the (Olympic) Games for France would be an extraordinary opportunity. It’s actually more of a dream than an opportunity.”

The Olympic draw was held last week and the tournament begins in Paris on July 24.

Marc Di Tecco is an exchange student from Spain, where he studies journalism. He’s a culture and art passionate. After graduating, he plans to write about fashion and culture stories. Marc would also love to have the opportunity to discover other areas, such as radio and television, in the future.