SAN JOSE, Calif., June 8 (UPI) -- Argentina didn't have any issues dispatching of Chile in its Copa America opener.
But there remains one adjustment that it can't afford to miss if it wants to be crowned Copa America Centenario champions: adding the best player in the world to the puzzle.
Barcelona forward and international superstar Lionel Messi is "fit to play" for La Albiceleste in its upcoming match against Panama, according to multiple reports. Messi had been out due to a tax evasion trail in Spain and dealing with a mild back injury.
'La Pulga Atomica,' or 'The Atomic Flea' will be welcomed with open arms to the squad, which already boast some of the deepest and best talent in the 16-team field.
But apparently, Messi's teammates have another not-so-flattering nickname for the superstar.
"...when the '10' is missing, especially in the opening game of a tournament, it is hard. But the lads showed the 'dwarf' that we are in great shape," Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero told SPORT EN.
Messi, 5-foot, 7-inches, is one of the shortest, yet hardest to take down, players in the world.
Messi was only 4-foot, 2-inches when he was 11-years-old, according to The Week. He was diagnosed with a growth hormone disorder as a child, which required expensive monthly payments, deterring Argentinian clubs. At 13-years-old Messi signed with Barcelona on a napkin. Barcelona stepped forward as "the only club in the world that offered" to pay for the growth hormone treatments, according to the Guardian. Before the signing, Messi's father Jorge and his employers and a local business sponsor the cost of the treatment for a short time, before it became "unsustainable," according to Sports Illustrated. The treatments allowed Messi to continue growth at a normal rate.
Now Messi stands atop the soccer world. In 2009 he was the first player to ever win the Ballon d'Or, FIFA World Player, Pichichi trophy, and Golden Boot in the same season. In 2012, Messi scored a ridiculous 91 times.
Argentina faces Panama at 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 10 in Chicago at Solider Field.