It’s a new era in the Argentina soccer federation, a time of change after a tumultuous showing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Chiqui Tapia is still in charge as the federation’s president, but he got rid of coach Jorge Sampaoli following the elimination to France, the eventual champions in Russia. As the team is looking to turn the page as it searches for a full-time coach, who will be in charge of finding out what players he wants to count on and setting a complete culture overhaul to get this men’s national team contending again.
But the big question hanging in Argentina is whether or not the world’s best player is part of those plans? Lionel Messi has kept quiet since the World Cup ended, and he was not included in Argentina’s squad for upcoming friendlies in the United States in September under interim manager Lionel Scaloni. During Tuesday’s press conference, Scaloni told reporters he’s unsure if Messi will return to the national team, per Ole.
“I talked to Messi. As a result of that chat, he isn’t in the team for the next two matches. We didn’t talk about what might happen in the future. Everybody knows what he represents for us. I have a good relationship with him,” Scaloni said.
That doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but there are three reasons why Messi is likely to return.
1. Sampaoli is no longer in charge
This is a big one. From the beginning, nothing worked under Sampaoli and. It left in even worse shape. There’s no doubt that this last World Cup was one of the worst moments of his career, and the players never seemed to gel with a coach many thought was the savior. From here, the only place to go for this federation to go is up. And Messi will likely at least meet the next full-time coach before making a decision.
2. There’s a title missing on Messi’s shelf
The only thing missing from Messi’s resume is a title with the senior national team, and there are still opportunities for him to add another elusive trophy to the hardware shelf. The 31-year-old could possibly play another two Copa Americas (there’s one next summer), and he could also feature in the 2022 World Cup if he wants to. He’s never been one to give up, and we saw that with his brief
retirement break after the 2016 Copa America, which lasted only a couple months. The burning desire to win a title with Argentina is surely still with him, and he knows he probably only has a handful of chances left. That may be enough to see him keep fighting.
3. Messi might get chance to work for a familiar face
This is kind of the dark horse reason why I think he will return. Messi has been vocal about this in the past — his idol is Pablo Aimar. The former Valencia and River Plate star was also a star on the Argentina national team, where they played together briefly. He’s now working alongside Scaloni on the national team.
He’s a talent that blew the world away with his technique and passing, and it would be an intriguing opportunity for Messi to work closely with him and even learn a few things. I think it’s an opportunity Messi would relish when the time is right.
Just look at how Messi looks like Aimar — it says it all.