By Paul Jones
Wales are in talks to play world champions Argentina.
Lionel Messi and company have been lined up as potential opponents for the Dragons with Wales keen to play Argentina in Cardiff or Patagonia, where thousands of Welsh emigrants settled in the 19th century.
“There is an ongoing discussion between us and them,” Football Association of Wales chief executive Noel Mooney said about a possible friendly between the two nations.
“We spoke to them in the last few days about playing in Cardiff.
“I met the Argentinian ambassador when he was in Cardiff talking to the Welsh Government.
“I used the opportunity to talk to him about the opportunity for Wales to go down to play in Argentina. He was excited by the idea, although he obviously he doesn’t decide who plays who.”
Woke up to see the news that Wales are in talks with World Cup winners Argentina over a friendly match.
Lionel Messi’s toughest test yet, up against Ethan Ampadu and the whole of Wales and Patagonia singing “Brooks will tear you apart again.”
All for it. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/Czwqf2oQNz
— Jordan (@JordanWebber96) October 3, 2023
Wales have played only once at Cardiff’s 74,500-capacity Principality Stadium since 2011 – a friendly against former European and world champions Spain in October 2018 – and many Dragons’ fans dislike the idea of playing at the home of Welsh rugby.
But Wales will return to Principality Stadium should UK and Ireland win their bid to host Euro 2028 in Switzerland next month – and the Dragons qualify for the tournament.
The Principality Stadium is among 10 venues to be used across five nations should the UK and Ireland bid be successful.
Mooney said: “You’d have to assume we’d need to play some matches there before the competition to get spectators and players used to it.
Wales chief executive Noel Mooney wants to bring Lionel Messi and Argentina to Cardiff for a friendly match. It would be at the Principality Stadium. More matches likely to go there if Euro 2028 bid is successful. 🏴
— Phil Cadden (@pjcadden) October 2, 2023
“We haven’t thought that much about it, but what I can say is that we know who we’d like to play if we had to – World Cup winners Argentina.
“We may not be at the very top of their queue, but if you look at Patagonia and the relationship between the two countries it would be great. We’d love to do it.
“There is a connection and history between us and Argentina because of the Patagonian links and the Welsh people who settled there.
“I could feel from the Argentine ambassador that warmth they have behind Wales and I’d love to see Lionel Messi playing in Cardiff.”
Patagonia is at the southern end of Argentina – around 1,000 miles from the capital Buenos Aires – and in 2006 the Wales rugby team played at Puerto Madryn, a city founded by Welsh settlers in 1865.
Wales and Argentina have only met twice before, with their last fixture being a 2002 friendly at the Principality Stadium when Craig Bellamy scored in a 1-1 draw against the South Americans.
Could Lionel Messi play in Cardiff?
FAW chief exec Noel Mooney: “There is an ongoing discussion between us and them (Argentina). We spoke to them in the last few days about playing in Cardiff. We’d love to do it.” 🏴 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/6NlPQIyjxY
— Phil Blanche 🏴 (@philblanche) October 3, 2023