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After whistles in Paris, Messi seeks to wrap himself up in Argentina


BUENOS AIRES — Captain Lionel Messi brought his arrival to Argentina one day earlier to celebrate the world title with a friendly against Panama amid uncertainty about his future at Paris Saint-Germain, where he is resisted by part of the fans.

Messi, 35, arrived aboard a private plane on Monday at Ezeiza international airport, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, a day earlier than the Argentine Football Association (AFA) had announced in the schedule of activities for the Albiceleste with a view to the duel against Panama on Thursday at the Monumental stadium of River Plate.

This will be the first match for the team led by Lionel Scaloni since Messi lifted the third World Cup for Argentina three months ago.

Although Messi is negotiating the renewal of his contract with PSG, the whistles he received the day before after the 2-0 defeat against Rennes in Ligue 1, just a week after the elimination from the Champions League, portend dark clouds over the future of the Argentine crack.

In turn, a former teammate of his at Barcelona, ​​Sergi Roberto, expressed after the 2-1 win in the classic against Real Madrid that “we are waiting for him with open arms.”

“Because of the elimination they have taken it with him (at PSG), but he is a spectacular player and he knows very badly that a player of this level is treated in this way,” said the Barca youth squad. Here we are going to treat him very well if he comes ”.

Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain reacts during the last minutes of the match against Rennes in the French league, Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Paris.  (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Messi has not yet ruled on what he will do after June 30, when the link with the French club expires. His father Jorge appealed to social networks in recent days to deny versions that linked him to Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia in exchange for an astronomical figure.

What is certain is that Messi will be surrounded by the fans of Argentina with a deafening ovation when he lifts the world title within the framework of the celebrations organized by AFA this Thursday at the Monumental stadium.

The fans sold out in two hours the 63,000 tickets put up for sale on the internet.

In addition to Messi, goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, defenders Nicolás Otamendi, Nicolás Tagliafico, midfielders Enzo Fernández, Rodrigo De Paul, Thiago Almada and Emiliano Buendía also arrived in the country on Monday.

Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain gestures during the French league match against Rennes, Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Paris.  PSG lost 2-0.  (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Among those mentioned are all the world champions, with the exception of Alejandro Gómez, who is recovering from an ankle injury.

Scaloni also cited the footballers who were part of the process prior to the World Cup, but were left out due to injury or technical decision, such as Nicolás González, Giovani Lo Celso, Nehuén Pérez and Buendía. On the roster there are also youth players with projection such as Máximo Perrone, Facundo Buonanotte and Valentín Carboni.

The Albiceleste will begin practices on Monday afternoon.

After the friendly with Panama, the world champion will face Curacao on Tuesday, March 28 in the province of Santiago del Estero.

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