Palacios wants Messi to be Argentine eternal

Palacios wants Messi to be Argentine eternal


He admitted he found it hard to picture an Argentina side without the 36-year-old Messi

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(Reuters) - Argentina midfielder Exequiel Palacios wants Lionel Messi to be an eternal part of the national team and cannot bear the thought of playing for his country without the inspirational forward.

Palacios, 25, who won the Copa America with his country in 2021 and the World Cup in 2022, admitted he found it hard to picture an Argentina side without the 36-year-old Messi, a record eight-times Ballon D'Or winner.

"For now, let's not talk about Messi not continuing. You can never imagine the national team without Messi. We all want him to be eternal and always play with us," he told Reuters.

Palacios also praised midfielder Angel Di Maria, who has said this year's Copa will be his last international tournament.

"We don't want Di Maria to retire," he said. "He is a unique, different and historic player for the country. If he retires, we have to make the most of every training session, every camp and every game because we're privileged to have his quality."

The 25-year-old Palacios helped Bayer Leverkusen win the Bundesliga title this season, ending Bayern Munich's 11-year stranglehold on the German top flight.

"My head is in Leverkusen, doing well for the club and earning a place in the national team. I'm looking forward to the Copa America, but I have to earn my place," he said.

Palacios also has a chance of a place in Argentina's Under-23 squad for this year's Olympic Games in Paris.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to (coach) Javier (Mascherano). Obviously, I want to represent my country and be at the Olympics. I'm desperate to be in the national team in any competition," he said.

Palacios spoke of his joy at helping Leverkusen win their first Bundesliga title.

"I am very happy to go down in history and be the only Argentine to win something like this with this club," he said.

"It's something that will mark me for the rest of my life when I'm no longer at the club and see what we've achieved," said the Argentine, who signed for the German club in 2020 and has scored 13 goals and contributed 10 assists in 116 appearances.
He acknowledged that much of the success was down to Xavi Alonso's work as coach.

"I am grateful to Xabi. I'm a person who is open to advice, especially from someone who has played in my position and had a great career," Palacios said.

With the treble within reach ahead of the German Cup final against Kaiserslautern and Europa League semi-final against Roma, Palacios said his team were refusing to get carried away.

"We've won the league and we're going for the treble while it's still within our grasp," he said. "Xabi tells us that every game is a final and we are taking it one step at a time."