Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi arrives for an MLS soccer...

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi arrives for an MLS soccer match against D.C. United, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Vancouver Whitecaps informed fans on Thursday that superstar Lionel Messi is not expected to play when Inter Miami visits Vancouver on Saturday.

Miami has not issued any statements about the availability of Messi or his teammates Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets. But the Whitecaps said it was their understanding the trio would not travel with the club for its first visit to Vancouver since signing Messi last year.

More than 50,000 people had been expected to attend the match.

The 36-year-old Argentine star has 10 goals in 10 Major League Soccer games this season and leads the league in assists with 12. Miami leads MLS' Eastern Conference standings and Vancouver is seventh in the West.

Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster said the team knows there will be a lot of disappointed fans, but the club “remains committed to making this a special experience for everyone.”

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