VIDEO: Injured Lionel Messi Walks Out During Argentina’s Abysmal 6-1 Defeat to Spain

Lionel Messi stopped watching his Argentina side as La Albiceleste were thrashed 6-1 by Spain on Tuesday night. The Argentina captain was sitting the game out through injury, and took up his position in an executive box to watch his side at Atlético Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

After seeing his side concede six goals, including a hat-trick from Real Madrid midfielder Isco, the 30-year-old Argentine had seen enough and made his way into the bowels of the stadium before the final whistle.

Messi has ?hinted at international retirement if Argentina fail at the World Cup this summer, and this looks increasingly likely judging by their abysmal performance against Spain.

Having captained Argentina to three international finals in a row – the 2014 World Cup and two Copa Américas – this summer could represent Messi’s last chance to achieve glory on the international stage. He has come agonisingly close in recent years, as Argentina have lost all three of the aforementioned finals in extra time or on penalties.

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The Argentina captain has 123 caps for his country, dating back to 2005, when he was introduced as a substitute in a friendly against Hungary aged just 18. He has captained his national side since 2011 and has scored 61 international goals.

The side have come agonisingly close to success on several occasions. The only thing Messi has won with the senior side is an Olympic gold medal from the 2008 games in Beijing. However, any side with Lionel Messi in their ranks is capable of winning trophies on the global stage.


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Important UEFA Rule Change Means January Signings Will No Longer Be Cup-Tied in Champions League

?New UEFA regulations in place for the 2018/19 season will mean that players who transfer clubs during the January transfer window will no longer be ineligible to represent their new team in the same European competition in that season.

Current rules mean Philippe Coutinho will have to wait until next season before making his Champions League bow for Barcelona as he had already played for Liverpool in the competition this season prior to his £142m January move.

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Arsenal were also unable to register Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to play in the Europa League even though he hadn’t played in the competition for another club. That was because Borussia Dortmund had dropped into the competition from the Champions League.

But under rule changes announced on Tuesday, which also included permission to use a fourth substitute in extra-time and larger matchday selections for teams in finals, UEFA have declared that clubs may add up to three new players European squads free of any restrictions.

A ?statement read, “Regarding the registration of players after a group stage of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, a club may register three new eligible players without any restrictions.

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“This is in line with the existing regulatory situation in the different domestic leagues, which does not impose restrictions on the eligibility for competitions of players registered for a new club during the winter transfer window.”

Earlier this season, Manchester United had been able to register Alexis Sanchez to play in the Champions League because he had only played Europa League football for Arsenal. The same was true of Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners, but the opposite way round.

Now, however, clubs can register whoever they like, up to a maximum of three new individuals.


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Roma Director Monchi Confirms Barcelona Interest in Top Talent Cengiz Ünder

?Roma sporting director Monchi has confirmed that La Liga giants Barcelona have expressed interest in talented young Turkish winger Cengiz Ünder, a player who only arrived in Italy last summer but who is already making a name for himself.

Monchi has been made aware of the interest by Turkish agent Bayram Tutumlu, but clarified that Barça or any other club are yet to make a ‘big offer’ for Ünder.

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Given the 20-year-old’s progress since arriving from Turkish upstarts Istanbul Basaksehir in 2017, the Roma official added that he isn’t surprised clubs are interested.

“Bayram Tutumlu, who has a good relationship with Barcelona, told me that they have asked for the boy,” Monchi is quoted as saying by Sport.

“We do not have any big offers, but surely many teams will follow him , because his youth and his goals help. Cengiz is still a young player, but if we all help him he can become important because he has the conditions for it.”

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Ünder has played 21 times in Serie A for Roma this season, scoring five goals and providing one assist. He has started 12 of those games, including eight of the last nine, during which time the youngster has scored all of his goals.

Ünder made his Champions League debut last month when Roma faced Shakhtar Donetsk in the Last 16 of the competition. It was he who scored the crucial away goal in the first leg that ultimately put the Giallorossi into the quarter finals after the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate.

As chance would have it, Barça will now have the perfect opportunity to get a close look at Ünder when they meet Roma over two legs in the next round next month.

(You may also be interested in ‘UEFA Announce 4th Substitute Will Be Allowed in Champions League and Europa League Knockout Rounds’)

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Former Barcelona & Argentina Coach Cesar Luis Menotti Hails ‘Incredible’ Work of Pep Guardiola

?Cesar Luis Menotti, the renowned idealist who led Argentina to victory in the 1978 World Cup, has spoken of his continued admiration for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

In an article for ?Sport, the 79-year-old detailed a meeting with Guardiola, who he labelled “the Che Guevara of football”.

Menotti hailed the tactical innovations of the Catalan coach, and spoke of his indelible impact on the game as a whole.

“I think that Pep is the Che Guevara of football,” he wrote. “I always said that a revolutionary wins or dies in the fight and Pep’s idea remains unwavering. He’s never going to change it: he wants to play well, he wants to own the space and he wants command of the ball. And he wants to handle the time, to stay ahead of the curve. 

“He’s a coach with a clear image and he’s been revolutionary in the fact that he’s even been copied in Italy. Since the success of Barcelona, the idea of the líbero and the ‘stopper’ has changed. 

“That was achieved with Pep’s success with Barça, which was backed up with Bayern Munich and is now being even further enhanced with Manchester City. That’s why I say he’s the Che Guevara. Win or die. It’s incredible that a coach wins in Catalonia, in Spain, is champions in Germany and then wins again in England.”

(You may also be interested in ?Raheem Sterling Reveals How Pep Guardiola Has Pushed His Form on to Next Level)

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He added: “Now, he’s very focused on what’s going on in England. He’s worried about the amount of games there are, that City have to play an extra cup in England, worried about how his players will arrive to the big games coming up. He worries that they could be distracted for what’s to come.

“In England, it’s cost him to install his style of play. He’s an excellent communicator and he’s always working. He’s committed to his ideas, but also to working on the ideas. And he teaches them for hours and hours. 

“The players have responded. The most important thing for a coach is to see a response through the growth of their players. And there’s De Bruyne. He’s a machine now. That’s the best quality of a coach. He’s made the Belgian into an excellent player and that’s to his merit. 

“Every time we get together, I see how passionate he is. We’re both similar because we ask lots of questions, but sometimes we can’t find the answer.”


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Barcelona Legend Ronaldinho Rejects Claims That He Was a ‘Bad Influence’ on Lionel Messi

Former Barcelona and Brazil star Ronaldinho has claimed that his decision to leave Catalonia in 2008 had nothing to do with rumours about his influence on a certain fresh-faced La Masia graduate, Lionel Messi.

The South American legend, who officially retired from professional football in January, asserted that he always had a good relationship with Barca’s Argentine superstar and even claimed that he “knew [Messi] was a better player” than him early on in his career.

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Ronaldinho spent five years at the Camp Nou in between spells at Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, defining what Spanish football was all about for a generation of La Liga fans.

“It was easy – it was time to go,” Ronaldinho told FourFourTwo about his Blaugrana exit. “I wanted to follow in the footsteps of [Frank] Rijkaard, ?who was my coach and said great things about Milan. I had other options, but I wanted to play for Milan.”

Ronaldinho also spoke in depth about his influence on Messi. Reports at the time of his exit suggested the Brazilian’s move to Milan was forced through because of their relationship.

However, the two time Ballon d’Or winner insisted that he had a fantastic relationship with Messi, even trying to adopt a similar mentoring role that fellow Brazil legend Ronaldo had upon his arrival at the Camp Nou in 2003.

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“As for that stuff about Messi, it’s not true; you shouldn’t always believe what you read. I always tried to be a good influence on him and actually try to do for him what Ronaldo did for me. I felt embraced by Ronaldo and I wanted Leo to have the same. 

“Messi was always very shy, but always a fantastic player. We lived on the same street, so I had a great relationship with him and his family. Even then I knew he was a better player than me.”

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