Argentine star Lionel Messi is not known to be one to mince his words and on Monday he shook the world with the declaration that he will no longer be available for selection for the Argentina national team.
This came just moments after the Barcelona star missed a penalty in the post match shootouts in the Cope America final against Chile which saw Argentina lose out to the same opponents for the second straight year.
The loss was Argentina’s third straight in a major final and a fourth final loss for Messi who has won everything at club level, and virtually nothing at international level and he had seen enough and decided to call it quits.
The decision by the best player in the world is widely believed to be a statement spurred by the heat of the moment and is expected of a player used to winning whenever he steps on to the pitch.
His story of the Copa America Centenario is befitting of the legendary falling from grace after a series of fine shows that placed Argentina rightly as the world’s best ranked team.
Messi came off the bench against Panama in the Group D game and turned a narrow 1-0 win into a 5-0 win, scoring a treble and setting up another, making it all look very easy.
In the quarter-final he opened up a Venezuela defence that had only conceded one goal in its three group games, and he touched the heights in the semi-final against the USA with a sublime display that placed his nation as favorites in the final as he made history as Argentina’s all time top scorer.
Still there are questions on whether or not the decision by Messi is the right one and as this question is poked time and again, a comparison is made between Messi and Argentine legend Diego Maradona.
Messi has been more consistent and outstanding at the highest level than Maradona was but still Maradona has a World Cup to boot. He was the leader of the pack when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986.
That alone fuels the stand that Messi, being 29, should stay on for a little longer and try to get something with his nation.
The fall by Argentina, analyzing the last three finals was by large not Messi’s fault, rather Gonzalo Higuain should take the biggest blame. Higuain had a big miss in 2014 when Argentina faced Germany in the World Cup final.
He did it again in the Copa America final against Chile last year and when he missed another good chance this time round, the feeling was all clear among the Argentina players.
Given Higuain’s contribution in the three misses, it would be safe to say Messi has taken the fall for someone’s mistake and it may be unfair for him and his nation because Messi’s quality is still relevant for the team.