Lionel Messi has asked that Gonzalo Higuain be recalled to the Argentina national team, according to reports. The Argentina national team skipper made a case for the striker to rejoin the team as they need the best legs ahead of the World Cup 2018.

The boss of the Argentine Football Association Claudio Tapia had asked that Coach Jorge Sampaoli reach out to Higuain after the team’s embarrassing loss to African giants Nigeria. The Super Eagles replied Argentina with four goals after the South Americans had gone ahead twice. Sergio Aguero was pulled out and the attack collapsed in the absence of Messi.

Tapia wanted Higuain to return to the set-up to ask as an option upfront. The Juventus forward has not played for the national team in the last seven games. Messi said Higuain was “one of the best number nines in the word” so he would be very helpful to La Albiceleste.

“He demonstrates this every weekend at Juventus but does not play the same with Argentina. The critics make him suffer, we have spoken about it many times. I believe that this period without the national team did him good,” Messi added.

The former Real Madrid marksman has netted 31 times in 69 games for the national side. With Argentina being drawn yet again against Nigeria, the 29-year old that has scored a goal and had an assist would be a plus in Russia next summer.

Iceland and Croatia make up the rest of Group D as Messi and the team seek their first major trophy for Argentina. After three recent finals, the team hopes they get it right this time.

There are already planned friendly games against Italy and Saudi Arabia in preparation for the summer event.