Argentina’s game against Bolivia on Monday (Tuesday, 2am CET) will be Lionel Messi’s last match as a Barcelona player. His contract expires on Wednesday, so if a renewal is not announced soon, he could go into the quarterfinals at the Copa America as a free agent. He would no longer technically be a Barça player for the first time in his professional career.
It may prove just an anecdote but the reality is it reflects a complicated situation following a rollercoaster of emotions over the last year for the best player in Barça’s history. That Leo could play a game not being a Barça player is a fact that the club and supporters have been trying to ignore for years on a sporting and institutional level.
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Messi, who turned 34 last week, is preparing to sign what will possibly be his last deal with Barça, though. Everything seems to be on track after the return of Joan Laporta as president this season.
Argentina have already booked their passage into the last eight and are taking on Bolivia, who have lost all three of their group games to date.
Lionel Scaloni’s side will be the favourites and still need to win to book their place in the next round as group winners, which would mean they will avoid hosts Brazil until a hypothetical final on July 10. Second-placed Paraguay, one point behind Argentina, play Uruguay at the same time.
LEO & 10 MORE
Scaloni has already confirmed that Messi will start the match, along with new Barcelona signing Sergio Aguero. They both played in the 1-0 win against Paraguay, too. Aguero needs minutes to run in to form after a stop-start season with Manchester City.
PROBABLE TEAMS BOLIVIA – ARGENTINA
BOLIVIA: Lampe; Villarroel, Jusino, Quinteros, Fernández; Saavedra, Justiniano, Vaca; Arce, Chura, Marcelo Moreno.
ARGENTINA: Armani; Montiel, Pezzella, Lisandro Martínez, Acuña; Exequiel Palacios, Guido Rodríguez, Nicolás Domínguez; Leo Messi, Kun Agüero, Ángel Correa