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manuel lanzini.

Why Lionel Messi has a Manuel Lanzini shirt in his collection

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Lionel Messi showed off his incredible shirt collection on Instagram earlier this week.

Either side of the middle section - which features four of his own shirts, two Argentina and two Barcelona - Messi has neatly arranged the jerseys of various teammates and opponents he’s collected over the years.

The middle part features some of his closest friends in football including Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and his old pal Oscar Ustari. Also featuring in prominent positions are the shirts of Francesco Totti, Angel Di Maria and his idol, Pablo Aimar.

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But there was one jersey in the middle section that nobody expected to see: Manuel Lanzini’s West Ham shirt. It features above Fabregas’s shirt, just below Aimar’s and to the right of Suarez’s.

Why does Messi even have a Lanzini shirt? They’re both from Argentina but that seems to be the only thing they have in common.

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Lanzini and Messi have little in common

Lanzini is six years younger than Messi and has never featured for the Argentina national team. He’s not from Rosario - he was born and raised in Ituzaingó - so it seemed bizarre that to see the 24-year-old attacking midfielder’s claret and blue shirt even feature in the collection, let alone in such a central position.

Why Messi has a Lanzini shirt

So, why does Messi have a Lanzini shirt in his collection? Squawka have done some digging and discovered an Instagram photo from January 2016 showing Messi and Lanzini with each other’s shirts.

“Dream fulfilled!!” Lanzini wrote. “Thanks @robertolopeztattoo and a crack @leomessi incredible day”.

This was the first time they’d ever met - but they presumably hit it off.

Lanzini reacts to Messi's photo

Speaking to West Ham's official website after Messi uploaded the photo to Instagram, Lanzini said: “It’s amazing, because the best player in the world put my t-shirt on there! I could not believe it.

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

“I would not say we are friends, but I met him one time in Barcelona because we have a mutual friend and that’s when it happened. He gave me his t-shirt and I gave him my t-shirt and he’s a very good person. It’s good!”

Reaction on Twitter to Lanzini's shirt in Messi's collection

Here’s how Twitter reacted to Lanzini’s shirt featuring in Messi’s collection…

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