BEIJING - Lionel Messi wanted Maradona to
stay on as Argentina coach and is looking forward to playing in
the same club side as Spain's Cesc Fabregas one day, the
Barcelona forward said on Thursday.
The World Player of the Year was part of the Argentina
squad that Maradona led to the quarter-finals of the World Cup
in South Africa a month ago before the former captain was let
go by the Argentine FA last week.
"I certainly did not want him to leave, I hoped he would
stay," Messi told a news conference ahead of the Spanish
champions' pre-season friendly against Beijing Guoan on
"But this is football. There are always many
Messi also made his feelings plain about Barcelona transfer
target Fabregas, who is reported to be angling for a move away
from Arsenal and back to his home city.
"I'm very much looking forward to playing with Fabregas as
part of the same team one day," he said.
Barcelona face the Chinese champions in the Bird's Nest
stadium on Saturday, exactly two years after the spectacular
opening ceremony kicked off the Beijing Olympics.
The 23-year-old has good memories of the stadium having won
Olympic gold with the Argentina under-23 team in a final
victory over Nigeria in the 90,000-seater arena two years ago.
The match will be Barcelona's second match on their tour of
Asia after the 5-2 victory over a South Korean K-League All
Stars side in Seoul on Wednesday.
Messi came on after half an hour and quickly found his
scoring touch with two goals in the last three minutes of the
first half before sitting out the second period.
His appearance was the subject of some controversy with
pressure from the match promoter forcing manager Pep Guardiola
to reverse his decision not to play Messi, who had just
returned from holiday.
Guardiola, who is without his eight Spanish World Cup
winners on the Asian tour, said Messi would definitely get on
the pitch on Saturday and the player himself was eager to turn
"As a player I always want to play," he said. "There is no
problem with my physical condition and I haven't had any
problems in training."
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