Barcelona star has not played for the national team since their disappointing 2018 World Cup, but is due to return in two months’ time.
Lionel Messi is set to make his Argentina comeback in the upcoming international friendly against Venezuela on March 22 after almost nine months away from the national team, Goal can reveal.
The 31-year-old has not represented his country since Argentina’s 4-3 loss at the hands of France in the round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup, focusing on his club duties with Barcelona so far in 2018-19.
There were doubts initially over whether he would retire from international duty altogether, but it soon emerged that the forward would likely wear the Albiceleste jersey again at some stage in 2019.
“I do not talk very often with Messi, but we have a relationship,” national team coach Lionel Scaloni said in December.
“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.”
Messi has yet to officially confirm when he will take to the pitch for Argentina again, but Goal can now reveal he is due to make his comeback in the next international break in March.
And with the Albiceleste’s friendly against Venezuela taking place at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano, Messi will not have to travel far to once again represent his country.
The prolific attacker has made 128 appearances for the national team since making his official debut in August 2005 and sits third in the list of most-capped players for Argentina, with only Javier Mascherano (147) and Javier Zanetti (143) representing their country more often.
He leads his nation’s goalscoring charts with 65 strikes, 11 clear of second-placed Gabriel Batistuta, with Manchester City ace Sergio Aguero sitting third on 39 goals.
Messi has yet to win major international honours at senior level, having had to settle for the runner-up position at the 2014 World Cup and the 2007, 2015 and 2016 Copa America editions.
He will be looking to finally add a major trophy at international level to his CV at this year’s Copa America in Brazil, with the tournament due to kick off on June 14 and the final scheduled for July 7 in Rio de Janeiro.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Aguero and Angel Di Maria will return to the Argentina squad as well for the first time since the World Cup.
England’s 1966 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died aged 81
Regarded as one of the game’s greatest in his position, Banks was named Fifa goalkeeper of the year six times and earned 73 caps for England.
He is perhaps best known for his wonder save from Pele during the 1970 World Cup against Brazil. Born in Sheffield, he won the League Cup with Stoke and Leicester, before retiring in 1973.
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight,” his family said.”We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.”
Sir Bobby Charlton, who was part of the team alongside Banks that won the World Cup in 1966, said: “Gordon was a fantastic goalkeeper, without doubt one of the best England has ever had.
“I was proud to call him a team-mate. Obviously we shared that great day in 1966 but it was more than that. “Even though I was on the pitch and have seen it many times since, I still don’t know how he saved that header from Pele.”
Banks is the fourth player of the England team that started the 1966 World Cup final to have died, after Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson and Alan Ball. Another of that XI, Sir Geoff Hurst, tweeted: “One of the very greatest. Thinking especially of Ursula, Julia, Wendy and Robert. Sad for football, Stoke City and England fans.”
Stoke chairman Peter Coates said Banks, who made 250 appearances for the club, had been “poorly for a number of weeks”. He told Radio 5 live: “He made his home in Stoke, and was very much part of the fabric of the club. You don’t get too many like him, and he was immensely modest for all his talent.
“He was England’s greatest goalkeeper when they had their finest hour.” England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling was among the first to pay tribute, tweeting: “Of course there was that save, but it’s so much more we are mourning today. RIP Gordon Banks. England legend, your legacy will live on.”
Former England striker Gary Lineker said: “An absolute hero of mine, and countless others, England’s World Cup winner was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, and such a lovely, lovely man.” Ex-England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who replaced Banks at Leicester, tweeted: “I’m devastated – today I’ve lost my hero.”
“A world Cup winner, a legend. RIP Gordon Banks,” tweeted Leicester and England defender Harry Maguire, while Watford keeper Ben Foster said: “Had the pleasure of meeting you as an 18-year old-with my Dad, and him being completely star struck by you. Total gent. You will always be a member of the Goallys Union.”
Ogunjobi’s Death Irreparable Loss, – NRA President
President of the Nigeria Referees Association, Tade Azeez, has described the death of Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former Nigeria Football Federation General Secretary, as an irreparable loss.
Azeez said in Ilorin that news of Ogunjobi’s demise was a sad and unfortunate piece of news item to wake up to.
He added that Ogunjobi, a former central defender for both the defunct IICC Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan and the then Green Eagles, passed on in the early hours of Monday.
The NRA president said Ogunjobi’s death, which occurred at the University College Hospital in Ibadan, was shocking to the football family.
He said that no one would have thought the ex-international would not be around for many years to come.
“It is an unfortunate thing that we woke up to the news of his death, because he was a person we thought would be around for about 20 to 30 years more.
“So, hearing about his demise is a shock to us all in the Nigerian football family.
“He has been in the football circle for a long time because he started as early as possible and he died as a football person,” Azeez said.
The NRA president described Ogunjobi, who went on to manage the Shooting Stars when it later became Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) as Sole Administrator, as a jovial and humorous person.
“He tried to make everyone around him happy,’’ he said.
Ogunjobi who was at a time member of the NFF Executive Committee was until his death Chairman of the Osun State Football Association. He added.
Former NFF Secretary-General Ogunjobi Is Dead
Former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Taiwo Ogunjobi is dead.
Until his death, Ogunjobi was the Chairman of Osun State Football Association.
He also served as Special Assistant to immediate past Osun Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
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