Is Lionel Messi finally retiring from international football?
LONDON - Carlos Tevez has told Lionel Messi not to retire from international football following Argentina’s chaotic World Cup in Russia.
It was a forgettable campaign for Messi and Argentina, who were eliminated by eventual champions France in the last 16 at Russia 2018 as Jorge Sampaoli later departed.
Argentina’s tournament was marred by reports of unrest following a 3-0 group-stage defeat to Croatia after a 1-1 draw with Iceland left the South American giants on the brink of a humiliating exit.
Messi – still searching for his first senior international title – and Argentina managed to sneak into the knockout phase thanks to a last-gasp win over Nigeria but the team’s shortcomings were exposed against France.
The international future of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi is uncertain after the 31-year-old retired briefly following Argentina’s Copa America final loss to Chile in 2016.
Tevez urged Argentina to do more to ensure the country’s all-time leading goalscorer can succeed on the world stage.
“I think Leo has to think about himself,” Tevez – a 76-time Argentina international – told ESPN. “He has to think that, if there is not a project that makes him happy and in which he feels comfortable, it is very difficult to take the responsibility of leading Argentina to become champions by himself.
“We are wasting a lot of time not having him happy and not being able to give him a hand to achieve that target. I think we are wrong in not being able to help him feel comfortable.
“As a player and as an Argentine I tell him that we need him, that he tries to rest, that he keeps a cool head and that we need him. We need him because he is the soul of Argentina and, as long as he continues playing football, it has to be that way because he is Argentina’s biggest idol and he has to take that responsibility.
“Now [I tell him] to rest, keep a cool head and try to be well, then we need him to take charge and on the pitch.”
In the meantime, the focus is on Argentina replacing former head coach Sampaoli.