Lionel Messi made his long awaited return to the Argentina set up after about eight months self-imposed leave from international football. The Barcelona star has not played for his country since they suffered a defeat to France in the second round of 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The 32 year old then exculded himself from national team duties as he missed all of La Albiceleste international friendlies after the world cup including the one against arch rivals Brazil.
However, he made his return to the national team set up last Friday but it wasn’t enough as Argentina went down 3-1 to Venezuela.
The result and performance from the men in blue and whites was a similar occurrence that has plagued much of Lionel Messi’s international career. The Five time Ballon D’or was again let down by his teammates deficiencies and it brings back memories of the near misses in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
The Argentina senior national team has not won a major trophy since 1993 though have went close in Lionel Messi era. The La Albiceleste went close at the 201 World Cup final but went down to Germany courtesy of Mario Gotze extra time goal.
They then suffered agonizing penalty shoot out defeat to Chile at the 2015 and 2016 Copa America. The latter prompted Messi to retire from the international football though he will later return to help Argentina qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
However, Argentina struggled again at last year’s world cup winning just once which culminated in Jorge Sampaoli’s sacking.
The former Sevilla man was replaced by former international Luca Scaloni albeit on a temporary basis and looked to have been able to solve the problems of the team. In his first six matches for which Messi was absent he lost just one.
Nevertheless, there was still this feeling that something was lacking in that squad and that is Messi. He finally made his return but couldn’t still inspire his teammates despite his brilliance showing in the match against a Venezuelan side that has Salomon Rondon as the only star power.
Messi latest return brings up the question if Argentina are actually better off without him.
It brings the question if his brilliance is now a burden to his teammates who have failed to understand the Barcelona 10. It also looked like the pressure has gotten to Messi and does not to seem to enjoy playing for the La Albisceleste anymore, an opinion shared by former Argentina defender Daniel Passarella.
“He’s a great player who can give a lot to any team,” Passarella said. “But when he plays for Barcelona he has a different attitude.
“He’s better there. “Sometimes these things happen. “You play well for a team and they love you, but you don’t feel at ease and something doesn’t fit. “I don’t know what it is, but it should be something you feel inside.”
The latest situation is now a big dilema for manager Luca Scaloni who has to decide if he needs the best player in the world ahead of the Copa America in Brazil or he has to do away with someone whose talents is now a burden to his teammates