Official: Lionel Messi returns for Argentina

KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after teammate Gabriel Mercado scores their team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between France and Argentina at Kazan Arena on June 30, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
KAZAN, RUSSIA - JUNE 30: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after teammate Gabriel Mercado scores their team's second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between France and Argentina at Kazan Arena on June 30, 2018 in Kazan, Russia. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) have confirmed that Lionel Messi will return to the national team during the upcoming international break.

The Barcelona star’s future in international football had been in growing doubt over the past eight months due to having not represented Argentina since June 30, where they went crashing out of the World Cup in the last-16 stage to eventual winners France.

New manager Lionel Scaloni had since been unable to name Messi in any of his squads with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner notably remaining silent on his international future.

But the AFA president Claudio Tapia gave some welcome news on Messi last month by practically giving it away that he will return for Argentina during the upcoming international break.

Scaloni had said himself in December: “I do not talk very often with Messi, but we have a relationship.

“We are going to try for him to join us in 2019, we have pending talks and we are optimistic that it will be positive.

“For us it is something important. Any coach would like to coach him, myself more than any.”

Now the AFA have confirmed Messi’s long-awaited return on Twitter earlier this afternoon.

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The 31-year-old will, therefore, likely be in the squad for the friendlies against Venezuela on March 23 and Morocco three days later.

Messi has scored a record 65 goals and added 42 assists in 128 matches for Argentina, but has never tasted the success he’s enjoyed at Barcelona.

Therefore, it’s likely Messi’s been motivated by the prospect of having another go at finally claiming some silverware with Argentina by winning this summer’s Copa America at Brazil.

However, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has not been named in Scaloni’s team with Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, Fiorentina’s Giovanni Simeone and Boca Juniors’ Dario Benedetto getting the nod instead.

Due to having not played since February 13, Mauro Icardi is also absent from the list after being stripped on captaincy at Inter. Chelsea loan striker Gonzalo Higuain is also omitted from the list.

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