Messi fit for Argentina as Scaloni responds to Leonardo's criticism

Lionel Messi Argentina 2021Getty

Lionel Scaloni has confirmed that Lionel Messi is fit to play for Argentina while responding to criticism from Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo.

Messi has missed PSG's last two games due to knee and hamstring issues, but was still named in Argentina's latest squad for World Cup qualifying fixtures against Uruguay and Brazil.

Scaloni's decision to call up the 34-year-old drew an angry reaction from PSG, who will also likely be incensed that a talismanic figure is now set to return to action on the international stage.

Leonardo's stance

PSG chief Leonardo called for FIFA to intervene after Messi's inclusion in the Argentina squad, telling Le Parisien: "We do not agree to let a player go by selection who, for us, is not in physical condition or who is in the rehabilitation phase.

“It is not logical, and these types of situations deserve a real agreement with FIFA.”

Scaloni responds

Scaloni has now confirmed that Messi will be available to face Uruguay on Friday, having taken part in full training with the rest of the Argentina squad.

“In principle, we believe that Leo is good,” he told a press conference. “Leo wants to play and I want him to play.”

The 43-year-old manager went on to address Leonardo's comments, insisting that Argentina broke no regulations by picking Messi.

“We have a relationship with Leonardo and their [reaction] is understandable, that Messi has spent a lot of time with the national team recently,” Scaloni added.

“But there can be no doubt that we are within the rules calling him up. This has always been a problem for European clubs.”

Messi's 2022 World Cup qualifying record

Messi's return will provide Argentina with a timely boost as they seek to move one step closer to next year's tournament in Qatar.

The PSG superstar has hit six goals in his country's first 11 group stage outings, and they currently sit second in the standings behind Brazil - with the top four nations in South American qualifying all guaranteed a place at the World Cup.

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