PlayStation, reggaeton & washing Aguero's plates - Messi's week in Manchester

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Lionel Messi
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The Barcelona man is sharing a room with Aguero as he spends the week at Manchester City's training ground ahead of Argentina's game against Italy

Sergio Aguero is used to being the centre of attention around Manchester City, but in recent days he has resembled more of a chaperone for his old friend, Lionel Messi.

Nobody gets a better reception than Aguero when he steps off the City bus at the Etihad Stadium, nor when his name is read aloud before kick-off, but he was clearly joking this week when he said: "I know the flashes are for me."

After all, he was walking out for Argentina training alongside Messi, and it was the Barcelona man that the world's media had flocked to see.

Argentina had published their media agenda at the beginning of the week but, just as on the pitch, everything revolves around Messi - Tuesday's afternoon training was initially closed to the media but after Messi arrived they opened the gates - and journalists from around the world cancelled their plans to be there.

It was the same on Wednesday and when he emerged from the City Football Academy's dressing rooms for the last open session of the week he was faced by around a hundred journalists and photographers desperate to get a shot of him. 

After all, there have not been any other opportunities to catch a glimpse of the world's best player out and about in some of Manchester's most popular locations. City's training ground may be just a five-minute drive from the city centre but it may as well be a million miles from anywhere, given Argentina's players will not be leaving until after Friday's game against Italy, when they will spend the night at the Lowry Hotel, the permanent residence of Jose Mourinho, before flying on to Madrid. 

Messi, then, has not been able to visit Salvi's Cucina, where Aguero and Pep Guardiola met just over a year ago to discuss the striker's role. There have been no visits to Tapeo and Wine, owned by Juan Mata, where the City players celebrated the Christmas before last with sushi, or other famous haunts such as Fazenda, Gaucho or Neighbourhood.

And as Argentina continue their World Cup preparations there has been no time to pop round to Nicolas Otamendi's house, where Argentines and Brazilians from City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton often enjoy the centre-back's asado barbecues. Of course, Messi could not even visit the house of his great friend Aguero. When Kun travels to Barcelona he stays at Messi's mansion in Castelldefels, but this week they have had to make do with the "functional" rooms of the CFA.

City players no longer spend the night before matches at the training ground - Guardiola prefers them to be with their families - but at least the rooms have en suite bathrooms and televisions.

Marcos Rojo Sergio Aguero quote

As has been the case since the Under-20 World Cup in the Netherlands in 2005, Messi and Aguero room together. Back then, the two youngest members of the squad would spend hours on the PlayStation, and they are still at it today, although the game of choice these days is Fortnite, a frantic, Battle Royale-style game that is enjoying huge popularity around the world, and especially so within the City dressing room. And nobody plays it more than Aguero.

In fact, there's little more to do within the confines of the CFA than play the PlayStation and listen to music - "Bella" by Wolfine and "Dura" by Daddy Yankee are current favourites.

You would have thought that at least Messi would have been able to meet Guardiola, his former coach and one of the few people who have access to the most intimate areas of the sprawling City training ground, but no. Right now Guardiola is in Argentina, staying at the Buenos Aires home of Joan Patsy, head of City's scouting operation in South America, and visiting Argentina World Cup-winning coach Cesar Luis Menotti.

Messi has of course been spending plenty of time with Aguero this week, with the City striker giving his old friend a tour of his club's state-of-the-art facilities. Indeed, despite Messi's role as the figurehead of the team and in spite of the knee injury which is keeping Aguero out of action, it is the striker who has become the father figure over the past few days.

"Kun's acting as if this is his own house," Marcos Rojo told ESPN this week. "We finish eating and he tells us to clear the table, to wash the plates. He's in charge, like it's his house."

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Sergio Aguero Lionel Messi Manchester City

With little else to do but wash plates, play Fortnite and listen to reggaeton, Messi and Aguero visited an Under-8s training session on Wednesday, posing for pictures with the delighted young hopefuls.

For those kids, among the most talented in the City academy, it is a moment they will never forget. For Messi, it has been just another week of training, eating, and making his own fun as he copes with the pressure of carrying his nation's World Cup hopes on his shoulders.