Lionel Messi returns to Argentina squad with a number of new faces

Lionel Messi has been recalled to the Argentina squad for this month’s friendlies against Venezuela and Morocco after a six-match absence following defeat at last summer’s World Cup.

Rumours had circled that Messi would be returning to international duty and the Argentina captain along with Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di María have been named in Lionel Scaloni’s latest squad.

And while Sergio Agüero’s fine form for Manchester City didn’t see the striker return, Messi and Di María joined part of the new-look Argentina squad.

“Leo [Messi] is called up and then we’ll see if he plays in one game or two,” Scaloni told the press. “I’ll make that decision,” the Argentina coach confirmed. Argentina lay Venezuela at Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitana stadium on March 23rd before taking on Morocco three days later in Tangier.

Lionel Scaloni will for the first time face the task that every Argentina coach has faced of trying to get the best from Messi and for the first time that will be surrounded by a new generation of players.

Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes, Nicolas Otamendi and Gabriel Mercado are among the more regular names in the group but there are plenty of new faces.

Manuel Lanzini returns to international duty after his lengthy injury layoff and with the West Ham midfielder are the likes of Guido Rodríguez, Roberto Pereyra and Rodrigo de Paul.

Superliga newcomers Lisandro Martínez and Domingo Blanco have been rewarded for their fine form with Defensa y Justicia, Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso gets his first call-up, Iván Marcone returns following his move to Boca Juniors and River Plate forward Matías Suárez is something of a surprise inclusion.

Argentina have two friendlies in March as Lionel Scaloni seeks to prepare his squad ahead of this summer’s Copa América.

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