Messi among Argentina stars given day off from training amid claims he has ‘hamstring problem’ ahead of World Cup final
LIONEL MESSI and the rest of Argentina’s starting line-up were absent from training on Thursday amid concerns over their talisman’s fitness.
The 35-year-old was seen clutching his hamstring several times during the 3-0 win over Croatia on Tuesday.
GettyLionel Messi and the rest of the starting XI were given the day off on Thursday[/caption]
GettyThe rest of the Argentina squad were present for the session[/caption]
It has led Argentina fans to become increasingly concerned about Messi‘s condition ahead of their World Cup final against France on Sunday.
But Messi’s non-appearance at training should not raise alarm bells as manager Lionel Scaloni gave all the starting XI from the semi-final the day off.
Foot Mercato are reporting that Messi is experiencing discomfort in his hamstring, although he is widely considered to be fit.
Squad players Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala – both of whom came on as second half substitutes against Croatia – were present at training.
Papu Gomez is nursing a sprained ankle and remains a doubt for the final, while Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel will return from suspension.
But it is Messi that every Argentine is hanging their hopes on heading into the France game.
The Barcelona legend has been in scintillating form for his country, contributing five goals and three assists in their six World Cup games.
But more than his goal contributions, he has been talismanic in everything Argentina have done at the tournament as he bids to win the trophy on his fifth and final attempt.
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He previously came closest eight years ago when Germany beat the South Americans in the 2014 final.
Speaking after the win over Croatia, he said: “I feel really good, I feel strong and ready to play each game.
“It’s not easy as we arrived tired but the group gained strength again and we played a strong game.
“I am enjoying this a lot. I feel very happy in this World Cup and I am able to help the squad.”
Keeper Emi Martinez also dismissed talk of Messi carrying an injury.
He said: “No, no [he’s not injured]. We played 120 minutes against Holland, it was a hard game for him but you can see he wants to finish every game.
“Physically he’s really good and he’s man of the match every game.”
Argentina have not won the World Cup since Diego Maradona inspired them to glory in Mexico in 1986.