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Lionel Messi: “I’m going on holiday and then I’ll start at my new club, I’m very excited”

Messi was present at Maxi Rodríguez’s farewell match in Rosario, where he scored a first half hat-trick.

Inter Miami revela fecha y horario para la presentación de Messi

Last weekend turned out to be quite a significant one for Lionel Messi. As he celebrated his 36th birthday in Argentina, he also took part in the celebrations for former teammates Maxi Rodríguez and Juan Román Riquelme. The star of the Argentine National Team returned to Rosario and was present at Newell’s Old Boys’ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa and Boca Junior’s La Bombonera for the pair of farewell games.

It was Messi’s birthday when Maxi Rodríguez held his farewell game at the stadium the World Cup winner had travelled to so many times as a child: Messi is a Newells fan, the club where Diego Maradona once wore the number 10 shirt, and was a late confirmation to attend the game that featured former stars such as Gabriel Batistuta and David Trezeguet.

Messi returns home to Rosario

The atmosphere went wild at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, mainly for Maxi Rodríguez, but also in recognition of the current Argentina captain and world champion, who was finally on the pitch that he dreamed of so many times throughout his childhood. His arrival got everyone off their seats and so did his performance, with Messi bagging a first-half hat-trick.

As for Juan Román Riquelme’s farewell, Messi was the captain of the Argentina National Team XI that played against a Boca Juniors XI. In the same way as happened just the day before, the fans in the stands gave the former Barça man a warm welcome, albeit a more subdued one than in Messi’s hometown.

Messi travelled to Newell's Old Boys' Estadio Marcelo Bielsa to play in Maxi Rodríguez's farewell game.
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Messi travelled to Newell's Old Boys' Estadio Marcelo Bielsa to play in Maxi Rodríguez's farewell game.JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONIEFE

Leo Messi scored in the 4-2 victory for the Argentina XI and in the second half he said goodbye with a hug from Riquelme. When leaving the pitch, Messi handed the captain’s badge to Kily González, gave his place to Javier Saviola and met Alfio Basile and José Néstor Pékerman on the bench.

Messi ‘very excited’ to play in MLS

When he was present on the bench, the number 10 spoke to Argentinian Public Television: “It is a very nice feeling to have been able to be at [Riquelme’s] testimonial, with all that he means for football in Argentina, what he means to Boca, to be once again in ‘La Bombonera’. Now there will be a few days of vacation and then I will start in my new city, my new club (Inter Miami ), I am very excited.”