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Argentina firm over Messi
22 Jul 2008 - 15:19:05
The Argentinian Football Association have warned Barcelona that they fully expect Lionel Messi to join up with their squad for the Olympic Games.
Barcelona are threatening to prevent the forward from taking part as it clashes with the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.
But Argentina are adamant the 21-year-old is to meet up with his team-mates ahead of next month's tournament and play a full part in the Beijing games.
FIFA rules stipulate that players under the age of 23 must be released by their clubs to take part.
"Messi is on the list of players who were called up to play," said spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo.
"All the players but Federico Fazio, Javier Mascherano, Lautaro Acosta and Messi are flying from Buenos Aires to Japan tonight (Monday). The other four are going from the countries where their teams are training.
"FIFA confirmed players under the age of 23 can be named by the national team and cannot be denied by clubs. We cannot do anything else.
"We are waiting for Messi in Japan. If he doesn't come, it's only because Messi and Barcelona decided not to."