Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu isn’t backing his native Spain to win the World Cup - but has instead revealed he hopes that Lionel Messi’s Argentina win the tournament in Russia this summer.
Messi reached the final four years ago but couldn't help Argentina win as Mario Gotze scored an extra-time winner for Germany, consigning Messi to second place again on the international stage.
“I hope that Lionel Messi can win in," Bartomeu told Antena 3 as quoted by Marca. “I hope that Lionel Messi, the best player in history, can win it and make his dream come true.”
At the age of 31, this could be Messi’s final opportunity for World Cup glory and engrave his name alongside Diego Maradona as an international great.
Messi has prioritised his World Cup preparation in recent weeks, helping Barcelona win the La Liga title before the end of the season so he remains well rested ahead of this summer – a move supported by Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli.
Sampaoli’s men are currently using Barcelona’s training ground in preparation for their first group game against Iceland on June 16.
Messi has been accustomed to International heartache, having lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup Final as well as losing to Chile in the Copa America final two years later and the pressure is on after Cristiano Ronaldo won the European Championship with Portugal in 2016.
Argentina are currently preparing for their World Cup campaign in Spain. They will face Israel on June 9 before boarding the plane to Russia where they are in Group D alongside Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia.