The Argentina captain has been excluded from the past two international squads – so has the forward’s time with La Albiceleste come to an end?
Lionel Messi has won virtually every honour under the sun with Barcelona, but has never once lifted a major title with his national side Argentina – something that critics say make him less of a worthy “GOAT” compared to La Albiceleste legend Diego Maradona.
Following an underwhelming World Cup campaign with Argentina this summer in which his side failed to progress past the last 16 stage, Messi has been absent from recent international call-ups and has not yet confirmed his future with the side.
He was absent in the recent 4-0 rout against Iraq, but what with the Copa America tournament occuring next summer, could Messi feature for Argentina for one last hope of lifting an international honour?
Has Messi retired from the Argentina national team?
The 31-year-old’s future with Argentina remains uncertain, having been left out of the last two squads since the end of the World Cup in July following their last-16 exit.
He has not officially announced his retirement from the Argentina side, but his exclusion from the recent international call-ups has raised uncertainty about his future.
Both Messi and manager Lionel Scaloni have been coy about a possible return for the striker. This summer’s tournament in Russia was seen by many as Messi’s last and best chance to finally lift an honour with Argentina – he has never won a major title with his national side – though Scaloni stated that Messi’s absence from the team allowed his players to play more cohesively as a unit.
Though the Argentina head coach remains optimistic of Messi’s eventual return to the side, he admitted that they may have to make do without their captain going forward and adapt accordingly: “I hope Messi is in the future, he is the best player in the world,” Scaloni told reporters.
“If he is not, we should try to play as a team, that is the idea, that we play as a team and we are difficult to beat.”
The forward has often struggled with the burden of captaincy at times, despite having taken the armband for club and country in recent years.
The Argentina side have been accused of having to rely on Messi to achieve results, with the Barcelona striker securing a spot in the World Cup finals this summer himself by scoring a hat-trick against Ecuador in the final qualification stages.
Messi has announced his retirement from the Argentina squad before off the backs of a disappointing campaign with La Albiceleste, after losing to Chile through penalties in the Copa America final in 2016 – and missing a crucial spot-kick.
He later ended up reversing his decision soon after, however, following a campaign from Argentina fans urging him not to quit.
Now, however, the constant pressures of having to constantly emerge as Argentina’s key player may have proved too much for Messi, and it’s hard to imagine him challenging for another World Cup with his side in 2022.
When was Messi’s last game with the Argentina national team?
Messi has not featured for Argentina since the World Cup this summer in Russia, where La Albiceleste suffered a disappointing campaign – finishing second in their group and eventually crashing at the last 16 stage at the hands of eventual champions France.
The 33-year-old scored just one goal during this summer’s World Cup – a crucial match-winning striker against Nigeria that confirmed their spot in the last 16 – but missed a penalty kick in their opening group game against Iceland, which denied his team the chance to win the game and clinch first place in Group D.
When could Messi return for Argentina?
Since Messi has not yet officially announced his retirement with Argentina, he could have next summer’s Copa America tournament, to be held in Brazil, on his mind.
Argentina will face Mexico twice in friendly fixtures in November 17 and 21, with a possibility of Messi being named in the squad. It’s highly likely that if he does return to the squad, it will be with a view to compete in the Copa America with Argentina – with that potentially his last tournament with La Albiceleste.