Lionel Messi will lead world champions Argentina in a friendly match against Australia next month in Beijing, on his first visit to China in 6 years, amid expectations of a massive influx of ticket purchases.
And the Argentine embassy in China said – today, Monday – that captain Messi will play the match against Australia on June 15, during his return to China for the first time since 2017.
In a statement, the Australian Federation confirmed the recurrence of the confrontation between the two teams after Argentina won 2-1 in the round of 16 in the World Cup last year, before Messi and his companions successfully completed the road to the title in Qatar.
Argentina tops the FIFA rankings, while Australia ranks 29th.
This will be the seventh visit of Messi, 35, to China, and it comes amid uncertainty about his future with Paris Saint-Germain.
A source close to the player told Reuters that he had received an official offer from Al Hilal Saudi Arabia to join him next season.
Messi won a rapturous reception on his previous visits to China, which enjoys a huge fan base, despite the failure of the men’s national team.
Since Messi’s first visit to China in 2005, he has played friendly matches with Argentina and his former team Barcelona.
The match became the talk of social media on the Internet in China, with many fans eager to attend the match.
Messi dispelled doubts about his international retirement after winning the World Cup, scored a goal in a 2-0 victory over Panama, and scored a hat-trick in a crushing 7-0 friendly victory over Curacao in a festive atmosphere among the Argentine fans last March.
Australia is preparing to return to Qatar to participate in the Asian Cup in early 2024, and is expected to play another friendly match against England at Wembley next October.