Lionel Messi lands in Manchester as Argentina train at the Etihad Stadium ahead of friendly against Italy
- Barcelona star Lionel Messi is in Manchester with his Argentina team-mates
- Messi will be in the team that will take on Italy in a friendly on Friday evening
- Argentina have chosen Manchester City's training ground as their base
- It is the first time this year Argentina can start to prepare for the World Cup
Messi touched down at Manchester Airport on Tuesday afternoon as Argentina's players trained at the Etihad Stadium.
The Barcelona star then changed into his kit and joined his national team-mates on the training pitch.
Lionel Messi trains with the Argentina ahead of their friendly against Italy on Friday
Messi took part in training at Manchester City's training ground on Tuesday afternoon
Messi will play in the friendlies against Italy and Spain, which comes next Tuesday
It is Argentina's first opportunity this year to start their preparation for the World Cup in Russia in the summer.
Italy failed to qualify for the tournament but will represent a tough test for an Argentina side that required a 3-1 win over Ecuador to reach the finals.
Argentina have been drawn against Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria in Group D.
Messi jokes with his Argentina team-mates after arriving in Manchester on Tuesday
Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli believes the match against Italy will help to sharpen his side before a second friendly against Spain next week.
Sampaoli said: 'Each match and training session is fundamental for us in preparation for the World Cup. Playing against Italy, in a venue as important as Etihad Stadium, is an invitation to a great event.
'Every Argentine in the world wants to be there when the National Team plays. We are certain they will accompany us for this one.'
Jorge Sampaoli's side play Italy in Manchester on Friday before playing Spain in Madrid
Sampaoli watched on as his side went through the gears, making sure they are ready in time for Friday's clash with the Italians.
A host of Premier League stars were on show, including Chelsea and Manchester United goalkeeping duo Willy Caballero and Sergio Romero, along with Everton defender Ramiro Funes Mori.
After the game on Friday, Argentina's stars will head to Spain. Messi will train along with his team-mates at Real Madrid's training complex.
Next week's friendly will take place at Wanda Metropolitano, the home of Atletico Madrid, but the Argentine FA have opted to prepare at Los Blancos' training base.