Messi misses Argentina-Italy game

Jorge Sampaoli has left Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi out for Friday's friendly against Italy.

Argentina forward Lionel Messi   -  Epsilon/Getty Images

Lionel Messi is absent from the Argentina team for Friday's international friendly game against Italy in Manchester.

Messi trained in the build-up to the match - which is being played at the Etihad Stadium - but was left on the bench by coach Jorge Sampaoli, who also omitted regular goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Sergio Aguero's knee injury means he is not available, with Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain selected in attack and Angel Di Maria and Manuel Lanzini providing support.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Giovani Lo Celso is given a start, with Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi and his former club-mate Willy Caballero both picked, the goalkeeper making his international debut at the age of 36.

While Sampaoli has left out key names, Italy's side appears to be closer to their strongest XI, with interim coach Luigi Di Biagio selecting goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon after the 40-year-old reversed his decision to retire.

Lazio striker Ciro Immobile leads the line, with Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne and PSG midfielder Marco Verratti also picked, while Fiorentina winger Federico Chiesa makes his international debut.

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