Lionel Messi has touched down in Montevideo ahead of Argentina’s crucial World Cup qualifier with Uruguay.
The match could go a long way to deciding if his side reach next summer’s World Cup. But despite the important task at hand, the Barcelona forward still had time to make the day of a young supporter.
As Messi arrived at the team’s hotel in Uruguay on Monday, the boy attempted to meet his idol, only to be dragged away by security as he came within a few metres of the forward.
But Messi demanded security let the upset child go before calling him over to meet him and take photographs.
The kind gesture came as Jorge Sampaoli’s squad continued their preparations for two crucial matches.
After winning only six of their 14 qualifying matches to date, the South American giants are currently fifth in the continent’s qualifying table for next year’s tournament.
As it stands they would face a play-off against the winner of the Oceania region of qualifying to secure a spot on the plane to Russia.
Ahead of Thursday’s clash with Uruguary Messi, Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Angel di Maria were among the Argentina players who arrived at the team hotel.
The clashes with Uruguay in Montevideo and Venezuela in Buenos Aires on September 5 could prove crucial in the race for qualification.
But former Chile coach Sampaoli has not shied away from making big selection calls. The 57-year-old has a star-studded forward line to choose from. But he will not be able to call on Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain, who was left out in favour of Mauro Icardi.
‘It’s to do with the analysis of what happened with the national team last time,’ Sampaoli explained. ‘We need a striker who, as well as goals, has the characteristics of an assist-maker. That’s we why called him up.
‘We’re facing a reality in which we are left outside of Russia and, with little time left, we have to take advantage of every virtue in this squad.
‘When we talked with Gonzalo, we told him why we didn’t call him up. We told him that we’re hopeful of there being an argument that he can be with us again.’
Source: dailymail.co.uk/DANIEL MATTHEWS