Argentina captain Lionel Messi will lead his side against Australia in a friendly in Beijing next month with his first visit to China in six years set to spark a mass scramble for tickets.
The Argentina embassy in China said on Monday that the World Cup winners would play Australia on June 15, bringing Messi to the country for the first time since 2017.
It will mark the seventh time the 35-year-old has visited China and comes at a time when his future at Paris Saint-Germain is the subject of intense speculation. A source close to the player has told Reuters he had received a formal offer to join Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal next season.
Messi has received a fervent welcome on each of his previous visits to China, which has a huge soccer fan base despite the struggles of the men’s national team.
Since his first China trip in 2005, Messi has played for Argentina or his former club Barcelona in friendlies. The Spanish side beat Beijing Guoan 3-0 in a friendly in 2010.
News of the match against the Socceroos quickly went viral on Chinese social media, with many fans voicing eagerness to watch the game.
“If I can get a ticket, I wouldn’t mind not having a girlfriend for a whole year,” one fan quipped on social media.