Messi in humanitarian mission to Senegal

The Barcelona and Argentina star is expected in the West African country this week to help distribute mosquito nets in what he says is a "very special project"

Argentina captain Lionel Messi will be paying a visit to Senegal on Thursday to help Qatar's Aspire Academy's anti-malaria campaign.

The Barcelona star will help distribute mosquito nets to locals in a bid to reduce malaria outbreaks in the area.

The four-time Ballon d’Or winner will also attend the official launching of the Soccer for Health world programme that will kick off in Dakar, Senegal’s capital.

Messi said: “I know my trip to Senegal will be difficult because I will see the suffering that malaria causes, but I know that we have a great chance to use the power of football to help save lives.

"Every 90 minutes 180 children die from this horrible disease in Africa, but almost all of these can be avoided by using bed nets. 

"Football Combating Malaria is a very special project to me because I know it will help save thousands of young lives, and I’m delighted to be involved and throw my support behind it."

Emblazoned with Messi’s image, the mosquito nets will be distributed to children and families from the rural localities of Mbour and Saly Portudal.