Lionel Messi dines out with Chelsea star and ex-Barcelona team-mate Cesc Fabregas following the Argentine’s London visit for FIFA’s The Best awards

Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabergas first began their friendship as rising stars in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.

A clutch of trophies and international appearances later — and a three-year reunion back at the Nou Camp — the pair have remained close since those early days.

Ahead of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup clash with Everton, the Blues midfielder linked up with the Argentine following the Best FIFA Award’s in London on Saturday night — along with their respective partners Daniella Semaan and Antonella Roccuzzo, for a spot of lunch.

(L-R) Cesc Fabregas, Daniella Semaan, Antonella Roccuzzo and Lionel Messi meet for lunch

Messi and Fabregas have long been friends, first meeting at Barcelona’s La Masia academy

Messi missed out on FIFA’s The Best Men’s Player to Cristiano Ronaldo, the Argentine’s wife, Roccuzzo, posted a photo of the Argentine enjoying their lunch with old friends Semaan and Fabregas.

On her Instagram account, and she wrote: ‘Beautiful lunch with them! @daniellasemaan @ cescf4bregas @leomessi !! See you next time.’

Antonio Conte may be forced to call upon Fabregas — who already has the joint-most appearances for the Stamford Bridge club this season with 13 — for Wednesday’s cup tie.

Conte will have hoped to take this opportunity to rest one of his key men and rotate his squad, but goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois revealed the Italian may be forced to field a stronger side than he would have liked.

‘With injuries, maybe we don’t have the possibility to rotate a lot so we will have to see what team the manager puts out, but I don’t think it’s a moment to relax,’ Courtois said.

Meanwhile Fabregas’s Argentine pal will be afforded a full week’s rest as Ernesto Valverde’s side are next in action against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Fabregas, who is Chelsea’s most-used player this term, may feature in the Carabao Cup