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Lionel Messi's Argentina absence a 'pity for football' - Neymar

Brazil forward Neymar said he hopes Lionel Messi will return to play for Argentina as it is a "pity" he is missing international football at the moment.

Messi has taken a break from the Argentina squad since captaining them to the round-of-16 at the World Cup, where they were beaten by eventual champions France.

Argentina face Brazil in a friendly in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, and Neymar had hoped to be facing his former Barcelona teammate.

"It's a pity for football," Neymar was quoted as saying in Ole. "We have to make the most of Messi for a long time. The more he plays, the better it is for football lovers."

Neymar is nevertheless looking forward to facing Argentina.

"I spoke to my teammates," he said. "I told them the next game will be special because Argentina is our rival. It's a great national team, with quality players. We are happy to face great athletes. That makes football all the more beautiful."

Brazil, hosts of next year's Copa America, head into the encounter in Jedda on the back of Friday's 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia, with Neymar assisting both goals in a lackluster encounter.

Argentina beat Iraq 4-0 on Thursday with only three players -- Sergio Romero, Marcos Acuna and Maximiliano Meza -- that went to the World Cup this summer starting.

Brazil, like Argentina, are going through a period of transition, according to Neymar.

"We have a lot of new players," he said. "Everyone that is here has quality, they have their own experiences to bring to the table. Hopefully we can make the most of this and give our best for the team."

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