- Lionel Messi scored two and assisted another as Argentina beat Bolivia 4-1 at the Copa América.
- Messi’s Barcelona contract is set to expire on July 1 and he is yet to agree an extension.
- The Argentina number 10 also became his country’s record appearance holder in his 148th game.
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Lionel Messi put on a dominant display as Argentina defeated Bolivia 4-1 in his side’s final group stage game of the Copa América.
The current Ballon d’Or holder scored two and assisted another to ensure his country finished top of its group and set up a quarter-final tie against Colombia.
The man-of-the-match performance was a reminder of his brilliance to his current employers Barcelona as Messi’s current contract with the Catalan club enters its final days.
Messi is out of contract on July 1, and could become the greatest free agent in soccer history if he fails to sign a new deal in the next 48 hours.
-Copa América (@CopaAmerica) June 29, 2021
According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, who is known for breaking news of transfers, a new two-year deal is close which would put an end to any speculation Messi is about to join up with his former coach and mentor Pep Guardiola at Manchester City or his friend and former teammate Neymar at PSG.
In the match against Bolivia, which exits the competition having lost all four of its games, Argentina opened the scoring when Messi chipped a ball into the path of Papu Gómez, who volleyed home.
Messi then had a chance to double the lead when Gómez was tripped in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Barcelona’s number 10 stepped up and buried the ball into the bottom right corner.
Just nine minutes later and Messi was again on the scoresheet.
A chipped through ball bounced in front of Messi, who had broken clear of the defence, and all he had left to do was lift the ball over a stranded Bolivian goalkeeper into the net.
-Gary Lineker ???? (@GaryLineker) June 29, 2021
Bolivia did pull one back on the hour mark through Erwin Saavedra for just the second goal of the team’s campaign, but Argentina restored its three goal advantage when Lautaro Martínez scored in the 65th minute.
Messi’s two goals took him to the top of the Copa América goalscoring charts as the only player to have scored three so far. He is also the joint-top assist-maker alongside Brazil’s Neymar.
There was more cause for celebration for Messi on the night, as he made his 148th Argentina appearance to become his country’s most capped player, overtaking his former Barcelona teammate Javier Mascherano.