Lionel Messi is totally over it. Arguably the best player in the world, Messi has been the face of Argentina’s national team and the entire soccer world for years now. He just turned 29 and is playing the best football of his life. Routinely making the type of plays that astound viewers and defenders alike, Lionel is in his prime and has helped Argentina become the #1 team in the world.
And he’s walking away.
After a gut-wrenching loss on penalty kicks to Chile in the Copa América Centenario final, Lionel Messi announced his retirement from international soccer. It was the 4th consecutive Copa América final that he has lost with the national team. When you combine that with a brutal World Cup final loss to Germany in the 113th minute, it’s easy to see why Messi is so frustrated. He has gotten so close on so many occasions and he can’t seem to take that final step to international soccer greatness.
When he sailed his penalty kick attempt over the crossbar in last Sunday’s matchup with Chile, the whole world could see how deeply he was shaken. When he later went on to retire from international play, the entire soccer world was shaken. But are we really to believe that the best player in the world is going to quit on his country when he is in the middle of his prime?
That’s pretty hard to believe.
Rumor has it that other notable players on Argentina’s national team will also reconsider their future with the team. Combined with the frustration of all these close losses in important games is the general dissatisfaction among players with the state of Argentina’s federation. The federation is so dysfunctional that FIFA had to take over it’s management last week, and Messi took to his Instagram recently to publicly lament AFA’s inability to properly coordinate travel arrangements for the team. They can’t get their shit together and because of that the best team in the world might have just blown up, robbing soccer fans of some potentially great moments.
For all of the missed opportunities at greatness on the international stage, Messi’s has enjoyed a great deal of success with his club team. Unlike with Argentina, Messi has reached the mountain top in La Liga. Barcelona has won eight La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and four Copas del Rey with Lionel Messi leading the way. Because of all of this success, and all of the millions of euros he would be leaving behind, it seems highly unlikely that he will retire from soccer altogether.
Still it would be a shame if he does indeed retire from international play. We should all hope that he was just speaking out of anger, disappointment and frustration, because it would be a great loss for the entire soccer-loving world to see him walk away now. There’s too much talent in those legs for him to just give up like this. With any luck, he will take some time to reflect and decide to come back to the Argentine National Team in time for the next round of World Cup qualifiers this fall.
And if he does decide to leave Argentina’s team for good, I’m sure the US State Department can get him some sort of expedited citizenship so he can suit up for the USMNT… Too soon?