Lionel Messi will play in the 2018 World Cup.
Marcelo D'Andrea, masajista de Argentina, aseguró que Lionel Messi regresará y jugará el Mundial de Rusia 2018 https://t.co/EsOtf9dhni
— DIARIO RÉCORD (@record_mexico) July 2, 2016
Yes, he turned the sporting world on its head by announcing his retirement following Argentina’s loss to Chile in the Copa América Centenario final.
Messi: “Creo que es por el bien de todos. Primero por mí y después por todos. Hay mucha gente que desea eso”https://t.co/MbpHlSg2iy
— TyC Sports (@TyCSports) June 27, 2016
Leo Messi: “The national team is over for me. I’ve made my decision.” pic.twitter.com/rzPKsSZy8C
— Soccer Quotes (@SoccerQuotes17) June 27, 2016
But Lionel Messi is 29. He’s in the prime of his career. Messi retiring now would be like LeBron retiring after last year’s loss to Golden State in the NBA Finals.
His “retirement” is ultimately a power play to reform the Argentine Football Association (AFA) from the ground up.
The AFA is perpetually in shambles. Its integrity has been so corrupted by greed and mismanagement that Argentina – a place oozing talent out of the ground – has failed to secure a title in recent memory.
Yes, Diego Maradona hand-delivered them a World Cup in 1986, but 30 years is a long time to wait.
Argentina has lost two consecutive Copa América finals to Chile in penalty kicks (2016, 2015) and lost the World Cup final to Germany in 2014.
That’s a lot of heartbreak in three years.
The incessant whisperings of, and comparisons to Diego Maradona don’t help either. Instead of being a mentor and benevolent godfather, Diego Maradona has chosen to undermine the Argentine national team to the point of failure.
The only way to fix the mess is to burn the organization to the ground – which is exactly what Messi has done.
And he’s not going it alone.
Messi’s friends and teammates, international superstars in their own right, have retired in solidarity with Messi.
There are several players who are evaluating not continuing with the national team.
This is the worst locker room I’ve ever been in, worse than the final in the World Cup in Brazil and the other Copa America.
Sergio Aguero, Argentinan striker
It’s been widely reported that Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia, Ever Banega, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel Di María are all prepared to retire along with Messi.
They understand blood must be shed in a revolution. The time for peaceful negotiation has passed. The’ve seized power from the AFA in a bizarre coup.
Now Messi & Co. have until September 1st to figure out how to right the ship.
That’s when Argentina has their next meaningful game: a World Cup qualifier at home against Uruguay.
Argentina missing the World Cup, or even playing a World Cup qualifier without Messi, is unfathomable.
I think he spoke while he was heated, because a beautiful opportunity escaped us.
I can’t imagine a national team without Messi. I think he’ll reflect (on the decision).
Sergio Romero, Argentina’s goalkeeper
Once the media and the public at large realizes their relentless criticism has left the greatest football player we’ve ever seen a broken man, they’ll get down on their knees and beg him to come back.
They’ll grovel like a Ned Stark did before that fucker Joffery cut his head off:
But our king won’t die.
Messi will be back with the Argentinian national team before you can say “Winterfell”.