Play Less Football, Argentina Tells Messi

"We told them to care of him and ensure he plays fewer games in the final months ahead of the World Cup".

AFA president Claudio Tapia has pleaded with the five-time Ballon d'Or victor to ask Barca boss Ernesto Valverde for less minutes, but it seems his plea has fallen on death ears.

Messi scored a hat trick in Argentina's final qualifier, a 3-1 win at Ecuador on October 10, to book their place in the World Cup in Russian Federation.

"I hope all the players arrive at the level they are", Tapia told TYC Sports of Argentina, as quoted by Daily Express.

Argentina captain Messi, the leading scorer in La Liga with 20 goals, scored a hat trick in the 3-1 win over Ecuador that sealed his country's World Cup place.

"Sergio Aguero is playing fantastically and Lionel Messi is always strong".

Image PA
Image PA

Wishful thinking, Claudio. Barcelona is first in La Liga, in the final of the Copa del Rey and is once again a contender to win the Champions League.

"For Messi, we had a good discussion with the hierarchy at Barcelona and the coaching staff".

For that reason, the president of the Argentine soccer federation (AFA) wants to make sure Messi is in top form by the time the tournament starts - no matter what it takes. Notably, the former champions will face English Premier League giants Chelsea in double-legged Round of 16 matches in the coming weeks.

Argentina worldwide Lucas Biglia believes his national team is "ordinary" without Lionel Messi, yet he admits the South American giants must learn how to get the best out of the Barcelona superstar without wearing him out.

The 88-time Croatia worldwide said Messi played a key role in supporting him in settling in at Camp Nou. "If we manage to seal it, it would be something important".

Vanessa Coleman