Argentine legend Diego Maradona has suggested that Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi should call time on his international career.
Messi is his country’s all-time record goalscorer with 65 goals in 128 games for La Albiceleste. He is also undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game, which is why over the last decade he has solely carried the weight of a nation’s expectations on his shoulders.
The 31-year-old has never won a major tournament with Argentina and has been criticised for displays on the international stage consistently, more because he has been unable to inspire the team to glory than anything else.
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Despite carrying the two-time World Cup winners to the final in 2014, where they ultimately lost out to Germany in the final and saving the team on numerous occasions with his brilliance in the final third and match-winning ability, Messi has never received the credit he deserves for his country because of their perceived lack of success in recent times.
After defeat in the 2016 Copa America final, the Barca talisman retired from international duty, only to go back on his decision shortly after to lead Argentina through qualifying and into the 2018 World cup in Russia, where they underperformed once again – succumbing to a last-16 exit.
Messi was once again made the scapegoat and Maradona – Argentina’s most controversial and revered hero – has shockingly advised the magical attacker to hang up his boots, as he told reporters on Sunday, as per the Express: “What would I tell Messi? To not come back any more. To retire.
“The Under-15s lose and it is Messi’s fault, the fixture list in Argentina puts Racing against Boca and Messi is to blame.
“I would tell him: ‘don’t go anymore, man’. Let’s see if they can handle that. Let’s see if they’re really big men.
“I would have liked to see him tell us all to f**k off. Because he is not to blame for us not being world champions.”
Maradona’s words should ring true for football fans across the globe and perhaps make some that have doubted Messi’s quality on the biggest stage eat their words because there is absolutely no reason for him to be shouldering guilt of any kind.
The diminutive playmaker has been in fine form at the start of the year in Spain and if he decided to step back from his role at Argentina and focus solely on club duties with Barcelona, it would likely result in him playing even better having finally unburdened himself of that unfair responsibility.