Lionel Messi Exchanges Shirt With Chelsea Youngster Kendry Paez After Argentina Beat Ecuador

Lionel Messi Exchanges Shirt With Chelsea Youngster Kendry Paez After Argentina Beat Ecuador

Elijah Odetokun
June 10, 2024 at 8:45 AM
In this article:
Lionel Messi logo
Inter Miami CF logoFArgentina logo
Kendry Páez logo
Independiente del Valle logoMEcuador logo
Argentina logo
Ecuador logo
Ángel Di María logo
Á. D. María
Benfica logoFArgentina logo
Chelsea logo
CONMEBOL Copa America logo
CONMEBOL Copa America
  • Reigning world champions, Argentina, beat Ecuador 1-0 in their preparation match for the 2024 Copa America
  • Angel Di Maria scored the only goal of the game for the defending champions against their continental opponents
  • Lionel Messi started the match off the bench and showed class to a young Ecuadorian player after the final whistle

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Lionel Messi showed class to Ecuador and Chelsea youngster, Kendry Paez, during a friendly match between South American countries Argentina and Ecuador.

The world champions stepped up their preparations to defend their Copa America title with a 1-0 win on June 9, with another game against Guatemala still to come.

Kendry Paez, Lionel Messi, Argentina, Ecuador, Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois.
Lionel Messi moves past Kendry Paez during Argentina's 1-0 win over Ecuador at the Soldier Field on June 9, 2024. Photo by Justin Casterline.
Source: Getty Images

Veteran and captain on the night, Angel Di Maria, scored the only goal of the match in the first half of a typical CONMEBOL that had a lot of strong tackles.

Paez started the game and, for the first time, wore the iconic number 10 for his country, completing the full match, while Argentine veteran, Messi, started from the bench.

Messi exchanges shirt with Kendry Paez

Messi replaced Di Maria in the 56th minute, with the Benfica man passing the armband to his long-term teammate and captain to see out the rest of the game.

The match did not see much action afterwards as both teams were unable to see out any attacking sequence to either double the advantage or equalise.

As spotted by CFC Ecuadorians, the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner exchanged shirts with the 17-year-old after the match, leading fans to applaud the gesture.

Paez caught the eye of the viewers in the first half when he nutmegged Atletico Madrid midfielder, Rodrigo De Paul, who fans famously call Messi's bodyguard.

According to Football London, Chelsea paid £17.2 million to Independiente Del Valle to sign one of South America’s best talents. He will join when he turns 18 in May 2025.

Martinez drops Messi’s retirement hint

Sports Brief also previously reported on Lisandro Martinez discussing Messi's retirement plans ahead of the 2024 Copa America, which could possibly be his last major tournament.

The Inter Miami star himself has not commented affirmatively but has instead left his options open and said his continuity in the national team depends on his physical condition.

Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.