Messi to return to international football


Lionel Messi is returning to the Argentina national team, having initially announced his retirement following defeat in the Copa America final.The Barcelona star, 29, called time on his international career after Argentina lost on penalties to Chile in June, having been beaten by the same opposition in a shoot-out in the 2015 final – a setback which came one year on from their loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.

Edgardo Bauza has since replaced Gerardo Martino as head coach and, following talks with the new boss, Messi has elected to make himself available for forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela, meaning he has not missed a senior international.

The return of Messi, whose 55 goals in 113 appearances across 11 years mean he is the nation’s all-time leading scorer, comes after a vociferous campaign for him to reverse his decision which also included a call from the country’s president Mauricio Macri.

“I see there are lots of problems in Argentine football and I do not want to create another,” Messi – who also suffered an international final defeat in the 2007 Copa America – said in a statement released on Friday.

“I do not want to cause any harm, I have always tried to do the opposite and help wherever I could.

“We have to fix a lot of things in Argentine football, but I’d rather do that from the inside and not criticising from the outside.

“A lot of things went through my head the day of the last final and I seriously thought about quitting, but I love this country and this shirt too much.

“I thank all the people who want me to keep playing with Argentina, I hope we can soon deliver them some joy.”

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