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The Whitecaps say Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is not expected to be in Inter Miami CF’s lineup when the two clubs face off in Vancouver on Saturday.

The Whitecaps say the club has not received an official update on the availability of Messi or his teammates Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets, but the ‘Caps understand the trio will not make the trip.

Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster says the club always wants its best players going up against the opponent’s best players, but Vancouver has no control over who plays for the other side.

Soccer fans in B.C. have been eagerly awaiting Messi’s first MLS appearance in Vancouver, and more than 50,000 people were expected at Saturday’s game.

The 36-year-old Messi quickly became the face of the league when he joined Miami in a blockbuster deal last summer, and he impressed once again this season, putting up 10 goals and nine assists in 10 games.

Schuster says the Whitecaps know 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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