Lionel Messi surprisingly decided he won't be playing for Argentina ever again, following the painful loss to Chile in 2016 Copa America finals played today June 27. Opinions say this could damage his legacy with the national team and fans back home.
It's sad to see the Barca legend thrive in Spain [his adopted country] but fail to produce consistent brilliant performances for the national team.
If Messi sticks to his announcement, made in the heat of the moment shortly after Argentina's penalty shootout loss to Chile in Sunday's Copa America final, Argentina will be left dwelling on the fact that it was not able to win any significant title despite having one of the best players of all time.
Although the acclaimed best footballer that ever lived has given his best for Argentina, many fans still feel Messi hasn't shown enough passion. This has irritated the No. 10 on many ocassions but the team's recent loss to Chile--after castles had been built in the air for victory--coupled with criticisms from Diego Maradona and the media, the football legend may not go back on his words.
Immediately after his announcement, some national team fans resorted to social media, calling their biggest star a quitter.
Fans believe Messi is still young at 29, calling for him to rescind his decision and try helping Argentina fight to win the coveted title in the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Messi moved to Barcelona in 2001 when he was 13 and never seemed to be as welcome at home as he was in Spain with the club that made him the star he is today. His connection with Barcelona grew stronger over the years and some fans back in Argentina were bothered by it, especially when success continued to elude the national team.
“I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, and then for everyone,” Messi told the Argentine network TyC Sports not along after missing a penalty kick in the shootout. “I think there’s a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.”
There’s a big chance that Messi will make a return for Argentina considering he spoke to the press out of pain and agony. Worse still, his penalty miss must have beclouded his thinking and feelings. It’s a trauma he will have to fight.
“It’s been four finals, it’s not meant for me,” Messi said.
The debate on who’s the best player of all times–Maradona or Messi–creates divisions among football fans all over the world, especially in Argentina.
Diego Maradona led Argentina to the World Cup title in 1986 and to a runner-up finish in 1990.
Messi played in three World Cups, taking the team to the final in 2014 but playing a lackluster game in the loss to Germany. In the match, he missed an easy scoring chance early in the second half that could have changed the outcome.
Messi’s only triumphs with Argentina came at the 2005 Youth Championship, a tournament played with under-20 squads, and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, when he helped the team win the gold medal.
He lost three Copa America finals (2007, 2015 and 2016) and was on the team eliminated at home in the 2011 quarterfinals of the South American competition.
“That’s it, I’ve already tried enough,’ he told TyC. “It pains me more than anyone not being able to be a champion with Argentina, but that’s the way it is. It wasn’t meant to be.”
With Barcelona, it has been nothing but success for Messi, who led the Spanish giants to four Champions League titles and three Club World Cup trophies. He also won eight Spanish league titles, scoring 453 competitive goals in 531 games, including a league-record 312.
He is Argentina’s career leading scorer with 55 goals in 113 international appearances.
Argentina’s next competitive match is a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in September, but now it’s uncertain what kind of team it will have then, as other players from Messi’s generation may also decide to leave the national team.