Officials for Argentina have asked national captain Lionel Messi to play less for Barcelona as the World Cup in Russia approaches.
AFA president Claudio Tapia has pleaded with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to ask Barca boss Ernesto Valverde for less minutes, but it seems his plea has fallen on death ears.
Messi has featured in 33 starts out of 39 games this season for the Catalan side, being left out of the match-day squad just three times.
Valverde did leave Messi out of the starting line-up for the first time in the league against Espanyol earlier this month, but he did come on at half time in that 1-1 draw.
Barca, who sit comfortable at the top of La Liga, have reached the Copa del Rey final and face Chelsea in the Champions League.
Such is, their impressive gap at the top of the league table, Valverde could seemingly afford to give Messi some rest during the latter part of the season.
“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.
“That’s vital for the directors and the coaching staff. We have spoken to Messi about taking care of himself and about playing less for Barcelona.”
Tapia also commented Argentina are planning to play a friendly against Catalonia in June as part of their World Cup preparations.
The fixture which would be played in Barcelona could see Messi play against team-mates Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto and Gerard Pique, whilst Xavi Hernandez’ inclusion has been discussed.