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9 bang average forwards Lionel Messi has carried during his Argentina career

Despite Argentina having several world-class forwards to call upon Lionel Messi has still ended up partnering some bang average players

Argentina have never struggled for attacking options to play alongside Lionel Messi.

From Hernan Crespo and Diego Milito to Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, Messi has partnered some of world football’s most prolific strikers during the course of his international career.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing because, among his 122 Argentina caps, the G.O.A.T has also had to partner some bang average footballers.

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A vintage year for strikers and haircuts

Bongarts - Getty
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A vintage year for strikers and haircuts

Ernesto Farias

The 2004/05 campaign was a forgettable one for Farias, who failed to score a single goal in 13 Serie A appearances for Palermo.

A staple member of any one-cap wonder article in Argentina, Farias made his only international appearance against Paraguay on 3 September 2005.

Messi had to wait until the 80th minute to get on to the pitch alongside Farias, by which point Roque Santa Cruz had already scored the match winning goal.

Anyone here played once for Argentina?

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Anyone here played once for Argentina?

Rodrigo Palacio

If you take a cursory glance at Palacio’s international scoring rate you’d be forgiven for thinking he’s a left-back or defensive midfielder.

Played 27, scored three.

Just imagine what that would look like if Palacio hadn’t been playing alongside Messi in most of those appearances.

‘Please cut that thing off the back of your head’

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‘Please cut that thing off the back of your head’

German Denis

Denis, who still plays for Lanus, is something of an Argentinian Emile Heskey, earning the nickname El Tanque for his love of the physical side of the game.

The 36-year-old didn’t manage to hit the back of the net in his five international appearances. Again, echoes of Heskey.

But he did play for Colon. Make of that what you will.

Nailed it

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Nailed it

Ezequiel Lavezzi

Whatever Lavezzi did in a previous life he’s now reaping the rewards.

He’s picked up 51 caps for Argentina despite never scoring more than 9 league goals in a top flight season.

As if that wasn’t good enough, Hebei China Fortune then made him the highest paid player on the planet. Exceptional juju.

Lean back, lean back

AFP or licensors
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Lean back, lean back

Juan Manuel Martinez

Messi actually owes one of his international goals to Martinez, who didn’t score more than three goals in a single season for the first seven years of his career.

Martinez was fouled during a friendly against Portugal, allowing Messi to net from the spot.

That was about as good as it got for the diminutive forward who shared the Argentine Footballer of the Year award with Messi in 2010.

Coming out on top against all odds

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Coming out on top against all odds

Martin Palermo

Now before everyone starts hurling abuse our way, we love Saint Martin, despite the fact he missed a hat-trick of penalties for Argentina in one game.

But by the time Messi got round to playing with the Boca Juniors idol, and Diego Maradona’s favourite player, Palermo’s powers were waning.

That didn’t stop Palermo taking advantage of a Messi rebound to become the oldest scorer at a World Cup, taking none other than Maradona’s record.

Another miracle of Saint Martin

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Another miracle of Saint Martin

Lucas Pratto

Pratto’s globetrotting career has seen him play in Argentina, Norway, Mexico, Italy and Chile, before ending up in Brazil where he now plays with Sao Paulo.

His international didn’t start until last year, when Edgardo Bauza called him up.

While he’s not played under Jorge Sampaoli, he can console himself in having tattoos of both Homer and Bart Simpson. You win some, you lose some.

Not sure that’s strictly legal…

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Not sure that’s strictly legal…

Lautaro Acosta

Unlike Pratto, Acosta’s international career has been given a lease of life under Sampaoli, although he’s yet to score for Argentina.

He was part of Argentina’s victorious Under-20 World Cup squad in 2007, playing alongside Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Ever Banega.

The 29-year-old plays for Lanus where, in 2014, he was kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint.

Nothing to see here

AFP or licensors
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Nothing to see here

Dario Benedetto

The joker in the pack.

Benedetto started in Argentina’s must-win game against Ecuador and while he didn’t score he did make a decent run to open space for Messi to complete his hat-trick.

We’re still slightly baffled why he’s getting in above Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi though, even if the Inter Milan striker is half fit.

‘Please let go of my hand Dario’

Reuters
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‘Please let go of my hand Dario’

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Barcelona are still keen on buying Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool

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