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Caravario: Messi abandoned in final

 By Sam Kelly

Nicolas Otamendi and Manchester City underline Argentina influence in Prem

Nicolas Otamendi has increased the Argentina contingent at Manchester City after sealing his move from Valencia.

The summer transfer window in 2014 might prove a turning point in English football's relationship with Argentine players.

Argentines were no strangers to English clubs beforehand but seemed to explode in numbers around a year ago, with the likes of Willy Caballero, Angel Di Maria and Esteban Cambiasso among others moving to English clubs.

Some of those moves turned out to be more successful than others, but with Argentina having long been seen as one of the world's biggest exporters of footballing...

 By Tim Vickery

Erik Lamela faces important weeks ahead with Tottenham

Erik Lamela was seen as a special player during his days at River Plate.

Some eyebrows were raised in surprise when Erik Lamela was named in Argentina's squad to face Bolivia and Mexico early next month.

The announcement came just a few days after the attacking midfielder's relationship with fans at his English club, Tottenham, hit a new low.

Brought off the bench just over an hour into the home game against Stoke, with Tottenham leading 2-0, he made not the slightest impact as the visitors took control and hit back to equalise.

The logic of his coach Mauricio Pochettino...

 By Tim Vickery

Argentina's lack of defensive options taking its toll on Lionel Messi

The ESPN FC team discuss Lionel Messi's role at Barcelona and speculate as to whether or not he is being overworked by the Spanish side.

Since the loss on penalties to hosts Chile in the final of the Copa America just over six weeks ago, the rumour factory in Argentina has been working overtime with production centering, of course, on Lionel Messi.

The Barcelona genius, now 28, was feeling burnt out and frustrated by his failure to win a senior international title. He would abandon the national team, said some. He would be taking a break, said others. He would, at least, not be available for the friendlies at the start of September...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Cristiano Ronaldo maintains lead over Lionel Messi in English baby names

The ESPN FC team discuss Lionel Messi's role at Barcelona and speculate as to whether or not he is being overworked by the Spanish side.

Lionel Messi may lead Cristiano Ronaldo in Ballon d'Or honours, but the Real Madrid star is firmly ahead of his rival in one category.

In England and Wales, more babies are consistently named "Ronaldo" than "Messi," according to the Office for National Statistics.

Last year saw 11 babies named Ronaldo while only four were named for Barcelona's little magician.

Ronaldo's numbers peaked at 21 babies in 2007 and 2008, but declined sharply after he left Manchester United for Real Madrid in 2009.


 By Sam Kelly

Man United target Sergio Romero capable of stepping up with Valdes off

ESPN FC's Craig Burley says Manchester United's transfer business deserves praise this summer.

Even with the cliché that goalkeepers are "different," there can't be many with the career trajectory that Sergio Romero has.

Transferred across the world almost before he'd broken out of his youth team, he has come close to records without conceding for one team, surpassed such a record for his country and remained a first-choice international even while playing in the Italian second division. He is now available on a free transfer in the same 12-month spell after he featured in a World Cup...

Messi once again abandoned by Argentina in Copa final

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop believes Lionel Messi looks nothing like his Barcelona self when he throws on the Argentina kit, but Steve Nicol explains Messi is only missing winning a final.

BUENOS AIRES -- According to some partisan reaction -- Juan Sebastian Veron and certain journalists -- you're not allowed to question Lionel Messi. You're only allowed to express appreciation and admiration.

Unfortunately, because everyone puts their greatest hopes in Messi (not a day goes by reminding him he's the best in the world), he is also subject to the highest standards. And when the team loses, he shoulders the blame.

That's how the logic of football works. The storm will surely pass...