Arsenal-target Buendia: Messi convinced me to play with him

Carlo Garganese
Arsenal-target Buendia: Messi convinced me to play with him

Emi Buendia has revealed that it was Lionel Messi who convinced him to switch allegiances from Spain and represent Argentina’s national colours.

Buendia has just enjoyed an outstanding season for Norwich City, helping the East Anglian side back into the Premier League and on the brink of winning the Championship.

His midfield performances have attracted the interest of a number of Premier League sides and he is a known target of Arsenal.

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And the 24-year-old can count upon the great Messi as one of his admirers.

How Buendia impressed Messi

During a match between Barcelona and Buendia’s former team Getafe six years ago, Messi encouraged the then-teenager to switch his international allegiances from Spain to Argentina.

At that time, Buendia was playing for Spain’s Under-19s but Messi was pivotal in convincing him to represent his birth country from then on.

“I maybe did something good to impress him,” Buendía told the Guardian.

“He asked: ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to play for Spain or Argentina?’

“Quickly I said: ‘Of course I want to play for Argentina. I want to play with you – it is a dream.’”

Buendia has since gone on to play for Argentina’s under-20 team and he is now being tipped to earn a call-up to the senior side.

“The target this year was to be back in the Premier League, so that one is achieved, but everyone wants to play for his national team,” he added.

“It would be something very special for me. I work every day to try to be better and to try to get this chance to represent my country.”

Buendia was named Championship Player of the Year on Thursday in the EFL awards.