Messi's Argentina picks 4 teenagers for friendlies in US

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina will feature four players aged under 20 in two friendlies in the United States in March with the Copa America and Paris Olympics in mind.

One of the biggest surprises of coach Lionel Scaloni’s squad on Friday was 19-year-old left back and midfielder Valentín Barco. He joined Brighton less than two months ago and has had an impact at the English Premier League club.

The other three teenagers in the world champion squad were forwards; Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho, Brighton's Facundo Buonanotte and Monza's Valentín Carboni.

The selection of 36-year-old Ángel Di Maria hints that the 16-year international is keen to play in the Copa and Olympics.

Argentina faces El Salvador on March 22 in Philadelphia and Costa Rica four days later in Los Angeles.

That means Lionel Messi will miss Inter Miami's visit to New York Red Bulls on March 23 in Major League Soccer.

But the friendlies will give American soccer fans another chance to see Messi in action. Earlier Friday, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Messi won’t compete in the U.S. Open Cup. Last year, Messi helped Miami reach the final but missed the 2-1 loss to Houston due to injury.

The U.S. tour has replaced Argentina's original trip to China. That visit was canceled after Messi didn’t play a Miami preseason game in Hong Kong, infuriating the local fans and city leaders a month ago. Messi apologized and said he was injured.



Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Walter Benitez (PSV Eindhoven), Franco Armani (River Plate).

Defenders: Germán Pezzella (Betis), Nehuén Pérez (Udinese), Nicolás Otamendi (Benfica), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Nicolás Tagliafico (Lyon), Marcos Senesi (Bournemouth), Valentin Barco (Brighton), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid).

Midfielders: Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Rodrigo de Paul (Atletico Madrid), Alexis Mac Allister (Liverpool), Leandro Paredes (Roma), Enzo Fernández (Chelsea), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Nico González (Fiorentina).

Forwards: Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United), Facundo Buonanotte (Brighton), Valentín Carboni (Monza), Ángel di Maria (Benfica), Lionel Messi (Inter Miami), Julián Alvazez (Manchester City), Lautaro Martínez (Inter Milan), Paulo Dybala (Roma).


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The Associated Press