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Messi arrives in Argentina after PSG struggles

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 22 Mar 2022

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Lionel Messi made a getaway from Paris to bolster Argentina ahead of their final World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

Rumours surround the future of Messi at club level, with Barcelona appearing to hold the door open in case he fancies a return to Camp Nou, having left in tears last August.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s first season at Paris Saint-Germain is almost certain to end with a Ligue 1 title, but exits from the Champions League and Coupe de France have dampened spirits.

Messi was booed by PSG supporters in the recent 3-0 home win over Bordeaux, with that March 13 game following in the wake of defeat to Real Madrid in Europe.

He has another year left on his PSG contract after this season.

The national team captain was assured of a warm welcome with Argentina, having made the trip out later than planned after missing PSG’s 3-0 weekend defeat at Monaco due to what coach Mauricio Pochettino said was a bout of flu.

The 34-year-old travelled by private jet with PSG team-mates Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes, ahead of a home game against Venezuela on Friday and a trip to face Ecuador four days later. Local media showed the pair arriving on Tuesday morning.

Argentina began their preparations for the games on Monday, ahead of the trio arriving from France.

Although Argentina have already qualified for the Qatar 2022 finals, Messi’s availability comes as a boost to head coach Lionel Scaloni.

A host of injuries means Argentina’s squad has been significantly weakened, and Inter striker Lautaro Martinez has pulled out after a positive COVID-19 test.

According to former national team defender Roberto Ayala, who is now Scaloni’s assistant, Argentina have no worries about Messi.

Ayala told La Red earlier this month: “We see Messi well. He is a boy who is transformed when he comes to the national team. He is very contained by the group and also wants them to see him as part of the group.”

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