Lionel Messi is back. The Argentina superstar, who announced his retirement from international play in July, has decided to reverse his decision and play for his country again.
“I see there are lots of problems in Argentine football and I do not want to create another,” Messi said in a statement.
“I do not want to cause any harm, I have always tried to do the opposite and help wherever I could.
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“We have to fix a lot of things in Argentine football, but I'd rather do that from the inside and not criticizing from the outside.”
Argentina's federation has been taken over by a FIFA Normalizing Committee because of corruption and general mismanagement. Players have complained about their travel, lodging and training situations in recent months, including Messi, who spoke out during Copa America Centenario.
Messi's decision to quit Argentina came immediately after the team's loss on penalty kicks in the Copa America Centenario final. His own teammates, notably Sergio Romero, said after Messi's announcement that they thought he was speaking out of emotion and wouldn't stay away from the team. It appears as if Romero and his teammates were right.
It's hard to blame Messi for being heartbroken and wanting out after the loss. Not only did they lose in Copa America Centenario on penalty kicks, but they fell in the Copa America final on penalty kicks the year before and were defeated in extra time at the 2014 World Cup final. It had been a rough three years for Messi, who is still searching for his first international trophy.
Messi's decision to return could have been aided by the hiring of Edgardo Bauza as manager. Bauza was appointed last month and while he said that his job was much more than convincing Messi to return, he also made a point of visiting the superstar to speak about his international status right away.
Now Messi is back and Argentina have their star as they go in search of their first tournament title since 1993.
Argentina will resume 2018 World Cup qualifying in September, when Messi is expected to be back with the team. If he is, Messi will not have missed a single match for the national team. That makes his retirement, well, not so much of a retirement, which surely makes Argentina and the rest of the world happy.
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Lionel Messi reacts after he missed a penalty kick against Chile during the Copa America Centenario final. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)