Ezequiel Lavezzi


Messi issues Argentina press boycott after Lavezzi accusation (video)

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Lionel Messi led a post-match press briefing after Argentina clobbered Colombia 3-1 in a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, but the talk was neither about his goal nor assist.

Argentine journalist Gabriel Anello claimed that midfielder Ezequiel Lavezzi was smoking marijuana at the national team hotel on Monday, leading the ex-PSG player to promise legal action.

[ WATCH: Messi’s free kick goal ]

Messi took it a step further. Flanked by Javier Mascherano, Pablo Zabaleta and other teammates, Messi told the media that the Argentina team would no longer speak to them.

It’s a serious move after a serious charge. Will the boycott cause any change amongst the Argentine media? Will they root out the offender, and what validity did the report hold? Lots to think about.

USA 0-4 Argentina: No. 1 team in the world dominates, moving to Copa America final

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It was a humbling experience for the United States in Houston.

Against a far superior opponent, the Copa America run finally came to an end, with Argentina advancing to the finals with a dominant 4-0 win. Lionel Messi ran the US ragged, while the hosts had one shot all night – none on goal.

[ MORE: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Copa America 2016 ]

From start to finish, Argentina was by far the better team. It all came crashing down for the United States just four minutes into the game. Lionel Messi chipped the US defense, and Ezequiel Lavezzi was all alone behind the back line to head home easily past Brad Guzan.

Down early, the US pushed higher up but still struggled to hold meaningful possession on the ball thanks to the Argentina high press. Messi had an opportunity in the 15th minute when he snatched a wayward Michael Bradley pass and carved through five players, but his shot was saved by Guzan.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USA 0-4 ARG | Player ratings ]

Argentina continued to get chances, with Gonzalo Higuain through on goal thanks to a quick restart on a free-kick at the top of the box, but a solid last-ditch tackle allowed Guzan to scoop up the ball.

With the top ranked team in the world pushing hard, the best player in the world put his seal of approval on the game. With Chris Wondolowski earning himself a yellow card for a foul at the top of the box, Messi stepped up and buried the free-kick into the top right corner, a pinpoint strike directly into the bullseye.

The US had its best chance on 42 minutes but it still didn’t come close. A cross from Gyasi Zardes flew into the box but just over the head of Chris Wondolowski.

[ VIDEO: Bullseye Lionel Messi free-kick puts Argentina up 2-0 ]

Into the second half, Jurgen Klinsmann brought on young Christian Pulisic, but things continued to get ugly. Gonzalo Higuain snuck behind John Brooks and the US back line, and although Guzan saved the first attempt, the rebound fell back to Higuain and he finished for a 3-0 lead.

There was a scary moment just past the hour mark when Lavezzi fell over the signage on the edge, and appeared to seriously injure his arm, but he walked off under his own power. He was replaced by Erik Lamela. Higuain got a second, on a feed from Messi, leaving the Napoli striker to poke home from close range.

Messi and company saw the final 30 minutes out with ease, holding possession and hardly seeing their goal threatened. With the win, Argentina moves onto the final against the winner of the other semifinal between Colombia and Chile. The U.S. still has one more game to play, with the 3rd place game still to come against the loser of the other semifinal.

AT HALF: Magical Messi free kick puts USMNT 2-0 down to Argentina in Copa semi

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Well, that certainly could have gone better for the U.S. national team. After 45 minutes of the first 2016 Copa America Centenario semifinal, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side trails Lionel Messi and Argentina, 2-0 at the halftime break.

[ MORE: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | Copa America 2016 ]

Argentina opened the scoring after less than three full minutes, when Ezequiel Lavezzi — probably the 15th-best player on La Albiceleste‘s Copa roster — headed home a chipped ball from Messi.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USA vs. Argentina scores and updates ]

Messi’s (latest) magical amazing perfect incomprehensible free kick in the 32nd minute made it 2-0, and that just about about do it for tonight. He’s now the leading goalscorer in the history of the Argentine national team (55 goals, breaking Gabriel Batistuta’s mark of 54).

As for the USMNT, they done … well, basically nothing, as most pundits and fans predicted upon the announcement of tonight’s starting lineup — 27 percent of the game’s possession, resulting in zero shots taken, meaning zero shots on goal, and all of six forward passes completed into final third of the field.

Another star to China: Lavezzi leaves PSG for Hebei China Fortune

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Yet another star name has moved to China.

Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi, 30, has signed a two-year deal with Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune and by all accounts he is making a fortune.

[ MORE: MLS worried about CSL riches? ]

Rumors suggest that the now former Paris Saint-Germain attacker will make in excess of $33.5 million from his salary alone over the next two years as he joins the likes of Jackson Martinez, Alex Teixiera and Ramires in the CSL.

Hebei China Fortune — owned by Wang Wenxue who runs a state owned company that focuses on real estate and specifically industrial parks — is based in Beijing and it is believed Lavezzi turned down approaches from both Inter Milan and Chelsea in favor of heading to China.

Former Arsenal and AS Roma forward Gervinho also plays for Hebei, as does Cameroon’s captain Stephane Mbia.

The Argentine international joined PSG in 2012 from Napoli and scored 35 goals in 163 appearances for Les Parisiens. He was out of contract with PSG in the summer but has signed ahead of the CSL’s transfer deadline (Feb. 26) and will be available to play when the 2016 season kicks off on March 4.

So, is anybody else extremely excited to see how all of these stars get on in China?

Another one: Lavezzi the latest star set for the riches of China

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The list just keeps growing; Ezequiel Lavezzi, he of Paris Saint-Germain and Argentine national team fame, is the latest star leaving Europe behind with the Chinese Super League his next stop, according to multiple reports Saturday night.

[ MORE: The latest transfer news and gossip ]

Linked with a move to Premier League side Chelsea during the recently completed January transfer window, a move away from PSG never materialized for the 30-year-old. Not on the European continent, at least.

Now, the former Napoli, San Lorenzo and Estudiantes (Argentina) attacker is set for Shanghai Shenhua, where he’ll reportedly take home something in the $11-to-15-million-per-year ballpark. When you can somehow get a raise from your current deal with a Qatar Sports Investments-owned club… well, I guess you’d be dumb not to do it.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Leicester hammer Man City, Spurs go 2nd ]

It was already pretty well known Lavezzi would be leaving the French capital in 2016, but when his tenure survived through much of Europe’s winter window, it seemed he would hang around until the expiration of his current contract before moving elsewhere on a free transfer.

Then came the monstrous windfall of cash into and subsequent spending by CSL clubs over the last two weeks; Lavezzi joins the likes of Ramires, Gervinho, Jackson Martinez, Alex Teixeira, Demba Ba and Fredy Guarin, among others, to move to China for massive annual salaries. At Shenhua, Lavezzi will play alongside Ba and Guarin, as well as former Everton and New York Red Bulls man Tim Cahill, who made the move to China last year.

The CSL’s transfer window doesn’t close until Feb. 26, so the spending spree may well go on a little while long.