Lionel Messi gesture to Chelsea wonderkid speaks volumes with clear instruction to club

Kendry Paez had a night to remember on Sunday as he swapped shirts with Lionel Messi after Ecuador's defeat to Argentina.

The 17-year-old forward played the full 90 minutes as Angel Di Maria's first-half goal sealed a 1-0 win for the 2022 World Cup winners in Chicago.

Even in defeat, though, it was a night to remember for Paez as he managed to secure the shirt of eight-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, who played the full 90 minutes as Argentina continued their preparations for the Copa America.

Seventeen-year-old Paez signed for Chelsea last June but will not join up with his team-mates at Stamford Bridge until after his 18th birthday in May 2025.

The forward currently plies his trade for Independiente del Valle and his impressive form for the Ecuordian outfit was rewarded with international recognition in September 2023.

Earlier this year, Paez insisted his eye-catching form for Independiente will be perfect preparation for when he arrives at Stamford Bridge next year.

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“I’m trying to play the starting games, score goals, be a protagonist and give assists,” Paez told Ecuavisa. “I believe that the day-to-day training, the Pro League matches, the Libertadores matches, are going to take me to Chelsea in the best way.”