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Messi to play less games

Thursday, February 15, 2018

BARCELONA - Argentina's national football association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia has said he has spoken to captain Lionel Messi about playing fewer games for La Liga side Barcelona in order to stay fresh for his country ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Tapia's pleas have largely gone unheeded by Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, who has started Messi in 33 of the team's total 39 games this season, only leaving him out of the matchday squad in three King's Cup games.

The coach did leave Messi out of the starting line-up for the first time in the league against Espanyol on February 4 but threw the Argentine on as a substitute to help salvage a 1-1 draw. "I hope all the players arrive in the level they are at the moment. Sergio Aguero is playing outstanding right now and Lionel Messi is always at the top of his game," Tapia told Argentine network TYC Sports.

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