Messi leads Argentina’s 35-member World Cup provisional team

Buenos Aires: Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has picked star footballer Lionel Messi to lead his 35-man provisional squad for the World Cup in Russia. Sampaoli picked only nine players who were present at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when Argentina lost in the final against Germany.
In addition to Barcelona’s Messi, Argentina’s provisional World Cup squad includes Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain and Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria.
Sampaoli also named River Plate’s goalkeeper Franco Armani to his list. Argentina’s regular keeper Sergio Romero is one of the players on the squad who are either injured or in the rehabilitation phase after injury. That also goes for AC Milan midfielder Lucas Biglia,who suffered two fractured vertebrae during a Serie A game at the end of April.
Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi and Sevilla’s Gabriel Mercado have been named to strengthen the squad’s defence, while Juventus Turin’s Paulo Dybala and Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi are among the new faces on offence.
Sampaoli plans to announce the final squad of 23 players next Monday, according to the team’s website. Argentina is due to face Iceland in the World Cup on June 16. — dpa