Juventus ace Paulo Dybala has stressed that Lionel Messi remains a key contributor for the Argentine national side but it is up to the Barcelona star to decide upon his return to international duty. The 31-year-old has not featured for his nation since the summer World Cup where they were largely disappointing before their round of 16 exit at the hands of Argentina.

Speaking after Argentina’s friendly game against Mexico, Dybala highlighted the importance of Messi saying: “We all want Messi back in the national team. We all know the importance of Leo for us, but it’s up to him. We are a group made up of many young players and we need the support of the people.”

Since the World Cup, caretaker Lionel Scaloni has taken the option to test younger players rather than recalling the senior who have featured regularly and the move has somewhat paid dividends with the country enjoying a good sequence of results. Nonetheless, Messi could remain fundamental to their prospects of securing the Copa America crown next term and it remains to be seen whether he would make himself available for the forthcoming selections.

“Messi is understood to have personally intervened to drop himself from the recent Argentina squads “ but the country’s general manager has recently suggested that the attacker could return to the national fray at the start of March. Meanwhile, Dybala has enjoyed an extended run from the starting XI for Argentina and this has unsurprisingly coincided with the absence of Messi, who has generally taken up “the attacker’s preferred position “ on the right wing.

Dybala recently provided an assist during the 2-0 international friendly win over Mexico. He could feature for the Argentines when they face El Tri once more at home in four days’ time. The former Palermo man has earned 17 caps with the national team to date.