BUENOS AIRES, (Reuters) – Lionel Messi has announced that he will play on for Argentina, reversing his decision in June to retire from international soccer.
The Barcelona forward said he would not play for Argentina again after the team lost to Chile in the final of the Copa America in the United States.
However, in a statement on Friday, Messi explained that he wanted to continue representing his country as he preferred “to help from within”.
“I consider there to be a lot of problems in Argentine football and it’s not my intention to create another one,” the 29-year-old said.
“There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved in Argentine football but I prefer to help from within and not to criticise from the outside.
“A lot of things went through my mind on the night of the final and I gave serious thought to quitting but my love for my country and this shirt is too great,” the player said. A few hours later Messi was named in new coach Edgardo Bauza’s squad to face Uruguay and Venezuela in 2018 World Cup, South American qualifiers to be held in the first week of September.
Bauza, who replaced Gerardo Martino after he quit in July over the FA’s failure to prepare a strong under-23 team for the Rio Olympics, was in Barcelona on Thursday for a meeting with his team captain.
Messi, who has scored a national record 55 goals in 113 appearances, has lost four major finals with Argentina, three in the last two years including the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in Brazil.
The June reverse in New Jersey was the second successive Copa America penalty shootout defeat by Chile in 12 months.
Messi, unhappy with the Argentine FA’s running of the team, planned to speak out after the Copa final but felt he could not after they were beaten.