Argentina football federation president Claudio Tapia has admitted asking Lionel Messi to play less for Barcelona ahead of this year's World Cup.
The diminutive star is Barcelona's most indispensable attacking option and has been for more than a decade, yet Tapia has asked that the player make himself less available in the name of international glory, something that has continued to elude him all of his career.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has started in 33 of Barcelona's total 39 games this season https://t.co/0iAALxCGgN— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) February 13, 2018
Messi famously retired from international football after successive final failings in both the World Cup and Copa America but has since made a U-turn after being convinced to return to the fold.
"I hope that all the players will have the same form that they are in at the moment," Tapia said, via Spanish outlet Marca.
"Sergio Aguero is playing fantastically and Lionel Messi is always strong.
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"This is important for the coaches and directors, we spoke with Messi for him to look after himself and play less at Barcelona."
The president also revealed having received an offer to play a friendly against Catalonia, in Barcelona, at the end of the season and suggested that it was being considered.
"Jorge (Sampaoli) said that it would be a good idea on a football level and for us it would also be important economically."