Argentina – Argentina’s new Coach Lionel Scaloni, who was announced as the new interim coach for the national team for their upcoming friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia, has commented on Lionel Messi’s future with the squad.
According to the former under-17 manager, himself and his coaching staff are yet to make any decisions regarding the senior side and he believes that now isn’t the right time for them to call upon Messi. Argentina struggled and ultimately underperformed during the FIFA World Cup campaign in Russia over the summer months. They had a disastrous start to the tournament, having only drawn 1-1 with Iceland before suffering a 3-0 defeat by eventual runners-up Croatia.
Messi’s displays were under heavy scrutiny after their first two group stage fixtures, though a 2-1 victory over Nigeria – where the Barcelona forward scored – ensured the Albiceleste’s qualification into the knockout rounds.
There, they were defeated 4-3 by winners France which ended their World Cup hopes for another four years. Following their elimination, a few key Argentinians including Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia announced their respective retirements from the national side – while some were rumoured to follow suit. Messi, is among them, while Jorge Sampaoli was promptly fired too.
The heart of the matter
Scaloni, speaking to Daily Post, said: “We don’t have the squad list made, not even a small percentage of it. I don’t think this is the time to call Lionel [Messi] – once we have to name the squad, we will see what we do. I honestly know him well and I’m not worried about having to talk to him.”
“We want to treat him in a way that he truly knows that there is respect there and that we are most certainly going to treat him as he deserves – that is the most important thing of all.”
Only time will tell whether Messi does decide to continue playing at international level after yet more heartbreak on the world stage.
The loss of Lionel Messi, albeit at international level, would have a significant impact on teams across south America, not least the Argentinians themselves. It would also be extremely sad to see one of the all-time greatest players retire without an international trophy to his name, so it’s likely that he could be persuaded to play on until the Copa America in 2019.