But Argentine media said the 35-year-old captain, who is competing in his fifth and final World Cup, was kept apart as a “precautionary measure” due to muscle fatigue.
Messi, whose team is among the favorites in Qatar to lift the only major trophy that has eluded his brilliant career, also stayed away from main training at Qatar University on Friday, staying in the gym with some other players.
Messi missed a Paris St Germain match earlier this month due to an inflamed Achilles tendon. But Argentine media said there was no real doubt he would miss Saudi Arabia’s game.
In Group C, Argentina also meets Mexico and Poland.