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Messi on a Chinese trip amid uncertainty about his future

Messi on a Chinese trip amid uncertainty about his future

Messi on a Chinese trip amid uncertainty about his future

Lionel Messi will captain world champions Argentina in a friendly against Australia in Beijing next month on his first visit to China in six years, amid expectations of a huge influx of ticket sales.

The Argentine embassy in China said on Monday that captain Messi will play against Australia on June 15, during his return to China for the first time since 2017.

This will be the seventh visit of Messi, 35, to China, and it comes amid uncertainty about his future with Paris Saint-Germain.

A source close to the player told Reuters that he had received an official offer from Al Hilal to join him next season.

Messi won a rapturous reception on his previous visits to China, which enjoys a huge fan base, despite the failure of the men’s national team.

Since Messi’s first visit to China in 2005, he has played friendly matches with Argentina and his former team Barcelona. The Spanish giants beat Beijing Guoan 3-0 in a friendly match in 2010.

The match became the talk of social media on the Internet in China, with many fans eager to attend the match and watch Messi, the World Cup champion and seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Argentina won 2-1 over Australia in the last match between the two teams in the World Cup round of 16 last year, before Messi and his comrades successfully completed the road to the title in Qatar. Argentina tops the FIFA world rankings, while Australia ranks 29th.

“Playing a match with world champions Argentina reflects Australia’s place in world football and the respect that the game’s seniors have for our national team,” said James Johnson, Chief Executive of the Australian Football Federation.

Australia played its last match in China in 2008 when it drew 0-0 with the hosts in a World Cup qualifier.

Messi dispelled doubts about his international retirement after winning the World Cup, scoring a goal in a 2-0 win over Panama and a hat-trick in a 7-0 thrashing of Curaçao in a festive atmosphere in March.

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