Lionel Messi back in Argentina squad - but Mauro Icardi left out

By Mirror: Thursday, March 7th 2019 at 21:08 GMT +3 | Football
Messi is set to make his international return for the first time since the World Cup [Courtesy]

Lionel Messi is set to make his international return for the first time since the World Cup after being named in Argentina's latest squad.

Messi, 31, opted to take some time away from the national side after their disappointing last-16 exit at the hands of eventual winners France.

He has been left out of every squad since their Russian failure - but he gave his football federation the nod to include him as they prepare for the Copa America later this year.

Argentina will take on Venezuela at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano on March 22 before heading to Gibraltar to take on Morocco, although Messi is not expected to feature in the second game.

It is the last time Lionel Scaloni has his squad together before the Copa America in Brazil this summer.

The other big news from the squad was the omission of star striker Mauro Icardi, who has not featured for Inter Milan since his contract dispute.

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Mauro Icardi [Courtesy]

His last appearance came on February 9 and with strong links to Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United it appears his summer may be free for transfer dealings.

Tottenham defender Juan Foryth and Manchester City's Nicolas Otamendi are included in the squad, as are Watford midfielder Roberto Pereyra and West Ham ace Manuel Lanzini.

It is not the first time Messi has made a comeback from international retirement.

He decided to hang up his boots for his country after a defeat to Chile in the final of the last Copa America in 2016.

Manager Scaloni, who took over after the World Cup, recently opened up on his relationship with the Barcelona superstar.

"I do not talk very often with Messi, but we have a relationship," Scaloni said.

"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."

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