England target 1st friendly vs. Messi at Wembley

The English Football Association has spoken to the Argentine Football Association about taking one of football’s biggest international rivalries out of cold storage for the first time in almost 20 years.

And despite Argentina reportedly charging an appearance fee of $5 million (£3.9m) to play friendly fixtures since winning the World Cup for a third time at Qatar 2022, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said that financing the Lionel Messi’s first appearance against England would not be an issue.

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“The money is not the challenge,” Bullingham said. “We actually have relatively few friendly opportunities now if you look at the way the international calendar is structured, but it [Argentina] is a game we would like to get on at some point, for sure.”

England and Argentina have contested some of the most memorable fixtures in international football, including World Cup clashes in 1966, 1998 and 2002 as well as the 1986 quarterfinal when Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal helped Argentina to a 2-1 victory on their way to winning the competition in Mexico.

But the two teams have not met since Michael Owen scored twice in a 3-2 England victory in a friendly in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2005.

Argentina have not faced England at Wembley since February 2000, while Argentina last hosted England in a home game in Buenos Aires in Jun 1977.

Since last facing Argentina in 2005, England have met fellow South American powerhouse Brazil on five occasions, and Bullingham has said that while no fixture against Argentina has been finalised, discussions have taken place.

“There are various conversations we have had with lots of countries about friendlies against them,” Bullingham said. “They [Argentina] are one of the countries we have spoken to at some point, but there is nothing in the pipeline for them at this stage.”

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