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