Messi back in Argentina fold

Argentina
Lionel Messi has been handed a one-match international ban which means he will miss Argentina's opening 2022 World Cup qualifier.

Lionel Messi is back in the Argentina squad after his three-month international ban came to an end.

The Barcelona star was sent off in his country’s Copa America third-place play-off win over Chile on July 6 and afterwards labelled the competition “corrupt”, prompting CONMEBOL officials to hand him a lengthy ban.

Messi was therefore ruled out of the friendlies against Mexico, Germany and Ecuador in September and October. He is now back in the fold for the upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay later this month.

The 32-year-old has been named in Lionel Scaloni’s 26-man party for the two games when La Albiceleste will take on South American rivals Brazil in Saudi Arabia on November 15 and Uruguay in Israel three days later.

Messi has scored five goals for Barcelona this season, two of which came in the 5-1 La Liga win over Real Valladolid on Tuesday, and he is expected to again feature for the Catalans when they go to Levante on Saturday.

He’s has amassed 135 caps for his country, scoring 65 goals, and will hope to add to that tally in the upcoming games.

Elsewhere in the Argentina squad, familiar names like Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Taglafico and Paulo Dybala are all included, while Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is also selected for the first time since the Copa America.

Tottenham’s Juan Foyth and Giovani Lo Celso have been named, despite the latter’s recent injury problems, while Watford’s Roberto Pereyra and Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez are part of the squad along with Aguero’s City team-mate Nicolas Otamendi.

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