Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni believes Lionel Messi would rather win a World Cup or Copa America with his nation than another Champions League title with Barcelona.
Barca and Messi had made the Champions League trophy a priority this season, having not lifted it since 2014/15 and, more importantly, seen fierce rivals Real Madrid lift it for the last three successive years.
Scaloni announced his 23-man squad for the Copa America in June on Tuesday and, predictably, Messi was a main talking point.
Asked about Messi being back in the national team, Scaloni said: “I don’t think there is one single guy in the world who dreams more about winning a title with Argentina than Lionel Messi.
“I don’t know him, Messi, I never talked to him but my specialty is football players and I’m sure if you asked Messi ‘what do you prefer, to be a world champion with Argentina or winning the Champions League’… do you think he would choose the Champions?”
Scaloni’s squad highlighted a mix of the old and the new. Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria are also in, while Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi was left out.
Argentina haven’t won a major trophy since the 1993 Copa America in Ecuador. Scaloni’s side will be part of Group B together with Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar in Brazil.
Barnsley striker Kieffer Moore has been called up to Wales’ training squad ahead of next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers against Croatia and Hungary.
Ryan Giggs has taken the opportunity to introduce some new blood in the absence of a number of key players, although Real Madrid striker Gareth Bale will be present in the 26-man party.
Torquay-born Moore – whose grandmother came from Llanrug, near Caernarfon – joins several other unfamiliar names at the Algarve training camp from May 22-28, but injured pair Aaron Ramsey and Ethan Ampadu both miss out.
Juventus-bound Ramsey has not played since April 18, when he suffered the hamstring injury which prematurely ended his Arsenal career and sees him miss the Gunners’ Europa League final date with Chelsea.
Ramsey could yet feature next month as Wales manager Giggs names his squad for the qualifying matches on May 29.
Liverpool attacker Ben Woodburn and Tottenham defender Ben Davies will definitely return after their involvement in the Champions League final, which rules them out of the Portugal trip.
The training squad also includes Stoke midfielder Joe Allen, Bournemouth’s David Brooks and Swansea’s Dan James, who is understood to have agreed personal terms with Manchester United ahead of a proposed move.
Derby duo Harry Wilson and Tom Lawrence, as well as Aston Villa’s Neil Taylor, are also ruled out as they will be taking part in the Championship play-off final.
Moore, 26, has spent most of his career in the lower leagues, but he did play for Norwegian top-flight side Viking in 2015.
He scored 17 league goals this term as Barnsley won promotion to the Championship, despite missing more than two months of the season between February and April after suffering concussion.
Owen Evans, Dylan Levitt and Nathan Broadhead will also travel to Portugal after playing for Wales’ youth teams over the past 12 months, and Wolves teenager Terry Taylor, 17, is also included.
The Aberdeen-born midfielder has been capped by Wales at Under-15 level and Scotland at Under-17 level.
Wales training squad: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Owen Evans (Wigan), Adam Davies (Barnsley), Connor Roberts (Swansea), Chris Gunter (Reading), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), James Lawrence (Anderlecht), Ashley Williams (Everton), Tom Lockyer (Bristol Rovers), Joe Rodon (Swansea), Dylan Levitt (Manchester United), Ben Williams (Barnsley), Joe Allen (Stoke), Matthew Smith (Manchester City), Will Vaulks (Rotherham), Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Daniel James (Swansea), David Brooks (Bournemouth), George Thomas (Leicester), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Sam Vokes (Stoke), Kieffer Moore (Barnsley), Nathan Broadhead (Everton), Louis Thompson (Norwich), Terry Taylor (Wolves), Ryan Hedges (Barnsley).
England manager Gareth Southgate says he would have no qualms making Raheem Sterling the national team captain if Harry Kane is unable to recover from an ankle injury in time for the UEFA Nations League semi-final.
The Three Lions face the Netherlands on June 6 in Portugal, and will have a second game, either the third-place match or the final, three days later.
Tottenham star Kane has been out since suffering an injury against Sterling’s Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final on April 9, and remains a doubt for next week’s final in the competition, against Liverpool.
The game against the Dutch will be Sterling’s 50th cap, and comes at the end of what has been a stellar season for the 24-year-old.
Sterling has scored 26 goals across all competitions, his best-ever return for a single season, and on Saturday scored a brace to help City complete an unprecedented domestic treble as Pep Guardiola’s side added the FA Cup to the season’s trophy haul of the League Cup and Premier League.
The City winger was named the PFA Young Player of the Year and also won the Football Writers’ Association award for Footballer of the Year, and Southgate is firm in his belief that Sterling would be ready to wear the armband against the Oranje.
“Raheem is in that leadership group now and he has fulfilled that brilliantly over the last 12 months in particular,” Southgate told a press conference.
“You can see his maturity now with what has happened to him on and off the pitch. I think he is realising that.
“He has risen to that challenge and embraced it and I wouldn’t have any hesitation in making him captain if that was the right thing.”