Lionel Messi

Messi plans to return in Spain friendly

The Barcelona star sat out the 2-0 win over Italy at the Etihad Stadium last Friday after admitting a muscle problem had been bothering him "for some time".

However, the 30-year-old hopes to feature against Julen Lopetegui's side at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"I was excited to be able to take part in the game against Italy, but I'm happy with the group's meet-up, I have good feelings," he told Fox Sports.

"In principle, the idea is to play against Spain. I'm going to see how I am."

Barcelona 3 Chelsea 0

The sides were locked together at 1-1 after Messi's equaliser in the first leg of the last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge and Antonio Conte's men held their own for long periods once again, only to be undermined by uncharacteristic defensive errors.

Messi scored the earliest goal of his professional career in the third minute, with Ousmane Dembele opening his Barcelona account in style to ground an encouraging Chelsea response.

Suarez, Messi reach milestones

The striker scored twice against Quique Setien's side to become only the second Uruguayan to manage a century of goals in Spain's top flight, after former Atletico Madrid man Diego Forlan, who scored 128 in his career.

Lionel Messi was also on target twice after Ivan Rakitic had put the league leaders ahead just before the hour mark to secure a win that stretches their lead at the top to 11 points.

The match saw Messi reach two more personal milestones of his own, the Argentina star having assisted a goal in five LaLiga matches in a row for the first time in his career.

Messi breaks Muller goal record

The Barcelona superstar, who equalled the tally while making his 400th LaLiga appearance for the Calatan giants against Levante last weekend, netted his 366th goal in Spain's top flight against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Messi's left-footed free-kick from 25 yards saw him overtake Muller's haul of 365 Bundesliga strikes for Bayern Munich.

Germany great Muller set the previous record while representing Bayern between 1964 and 1979, scoring his 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga matches.

 

Photo Getty Images. Caption: Barcelona star Lionel Messi

     

Messi, Dembele train for Barca

Ernesto Valverde has already confirmed France winger Dembele will not be risked on Saturday, but his involvement is an encouraging sign of his return from a hamstring injury.

Training footage released by Barca painted a different picture to the scenes at their bitter rivals, where Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to join his team-mates.

The star forward, who is reported to have picked up a calf problem in the Club World Cup final, was confined to light work away from the main squad for the second day in succession.

Messi can lead Argentina to World Cup success – Riquelme

After battling through qualifying, Jorge Sampaoli's men are not considered among the strong favourites for Russia 2018.

However, Riquelme – who was capped 51 times by the national team – believes Argentina could contend if Messi performs, having been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

"We hope that we do well, that the players get well and above all Messi," the Argentinian told El Trece.

"If the latter happens, Argentina will have many chances to win. If Messi is good, nothing is complicated.

Lionel Messi statue in Buenos Aires vandalised again

The bronze statue was chopped off just above the ankles, with the main "body" left lying on the pavement.

It is the second time the statue, which was unveiled in June 2016, has been targeted by vandals. Police said the motive was unclear.

Messi recently saved Argentina's 2018 World Cup place when he scored a hat-trick against Ecuador in October.

Argentine media tweeted pictures of the vandalised statue.

Messi the billion-dollar man

The news ended speculation that the five-times world player of the year could leave for free in June.

"FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi signed on Saturday morning a new contract that will keep the Argentine superstar at the Club through the 2020/21 season," a statement from Barca, posting a picture of Messi signing the deal alongside president Josep Maria Bartomeu, read.

"The buyout clause was set at 700 million euros (NZ $1.2 billion)."

Ronaldo overtakes Messi in Champions League goal scoring race

The Portugal star netted twice in Real Madrid's 6-0 thrashing of APOEL on Tuesday to move onto 98 in the famous white shirt.

He is one above Messi in this particular scoring stat, with the Barcelona man sitting on 97 ahead of his side's clash with Juventus on Wednesday.

Ronaldo also broke his own record for Champions League goals in a calendar year, moving onto 18 for 2017 with his double in Cyprus to surpass his previous best of 15 two years ago.

Messi has signed Barcelona contract – Tebas

The future of the Argentina superstar has been the subject of some speculation, with his current contract set to expire in June.

If no new contract was in the offing, Messi would be free to speak to other clubs from January and reports of a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City have continued to linger.

However, Tebas says LaLiga's record goalscorer is not going anywhere having already been informed Messi has penned his new agreement.