Lionel Messi chatted and took pictures with Nicaragua players after 5-1 Argentina win

Leo Messi

Argentina stepped up their 2019 Copa America preparations on Friday night by thrashing Nicaragua 5-1 at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario.

After the 4-3 loss to eventual winners France at last year's World Cup in Russia, Lionel Messi took time away from international football and missed six friendlies in the second half of 2018.

However, the Argentine captain returned to national team duty against Venezuela back in March and was in Lionel Scaloni's starting XI once more for the big win over Nicaragua.

Messi is renowned for being one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen, but just as impressive as his ability is his very humble personality.

That, and his clear importance in the world of football, was on display again at full-time when Nicaragua players were desperate to meet Messi properly - and he obliged.

Messi bags brace v Nicaragua

Leo Messi enjoyed a sensational 2018-19 campaign, registering 51 goals and 19 assists in just 50 matches and winning La Liga with Barcelona.

Leo Messi lifts La Liga trophy at the Nou Camp

The 31-year-old lined up alongside River Plate's Matias Suarez and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero in attack against Nicaragua and opened the scoring in the 37th-minute.

Messi latched on to Giovani Lo Celso's through ball, tiptoed into the penalty area and evaded three or four challenges before coolly finding the back of the net.

A minute later, Argentina's all-time leading scorer doubled their advantage with an easy rebound after Aguero's initial strike was saved by goalkeeper Justo Lorente.

Messi makes Nicaragua players' dreams a reality

With the team 2-0 up, Paulo Dybala replaced Messi during the half-time interval and as soon as the game ended, several Nicaragua players surrounded the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Messi waves on the night Argentina beat Nicaragua 5-1

Whether it was trying to have a quick conversation, admiring him from a closer view or asking for a picture with the magic man - the opposition (just like we would all be) were in awe.

Messi didn't need to do them any favours but he took the time to exchange a few words and take photos with members of the Nicaragua squad - which they'll cherish forever.

Check out some of the pictures below, courtesy of Spanish news outlet Marca, including Messi's selfie with Mexican-born Nicaraguan Manuel Rosas:

Messi poses for a selfie with Manuel Rosas Marca's collage of Messi meeting Nicaragua players

Can Messi finally triumph with Argentina?

Leo Messi remains in search of his first major trophy at international level and his latest quest begins on June 15 when Argentina kick off their Copa America campaign.

The Albiceleste play Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar in Group B and will hope Messi can inspire them to a first Copa America triumph since 1993.

What do YOU make of Messi taking pictures with Nicaragua players? Do YOU think he can lead Argentina to glory in the Copa America? Drop YOUR thoughts in the comments box below!

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