BUENOS AIRES - Lionel Messi is Argentina's
centre-forward, coach Sergio Batista said on Monday as he closed
the Copa America door to Carlos Tevez.
"My number nine is Lionel Messi," Batista told a news
conference in which Argentina announced a new warm-up fixture at
home to Albania for the South American championship they will
host in July.
"There are no discarded players but if you ask about Tevez... we have Messi in that position," he said while adding that
the door to his team was not closed to anyone in the future with
his long term sights on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid was a second option as the
central striker or he could play in a slightly different
attacking role, the 48-year-old coach said.
Batista added his decision concerning Tevez was purely a
footballing one, saying: "There's nothing personal.
"Argentina are not going to play like Barcelona but I want
to surround Messi in the best possible way," Batista said. "We
will play a controlled possession game with patience."
He said he was looking for players to fit into his tactical
scheme and that any doubts he still had about who to include in
his 22-man squad for the July 1-24 tournament depended on
finding the right man for a particular position.
Argentina go on tour next month to play Nigeria in Abuja on
June 1 and Poland in Warsaw on June 5 before facing Albania at
the River Plate stadium on June 20 by which time Batista said he
would have decided on his squad for the Copa America.
Later in the year, Argentina meet Romania in Bucharest on
August 10 and tour Asia in September with friendlies against
Venezuela in Calcutta on September 2 and Nigeria in Bangladesh on
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