In a move that will surprise absolutely nobody, Lionel Messi has confirmed that he is to return to international football with Argentina.
The Barcelona forward announced his retirement from the international game last month having lost the Copa América Centenario final to Chile on penalties, his third international final defeat in as many years.
However, he has now reversed that decision, and has been named in new Argentina manager Edgardo Bauza’s first squad selection for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela.
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) August 12, 2016
In case your Spanish is a bit rusty, the statement reads (as translated by ESPN):
“I see that there are a lot of problems in Argentina football and I don’t want to create more. I don’t want to cause harm, on the contrary, my goal was to help in any way I could.
“There are many things that need to be fixed in Argentine football. But I prefer to help from inside rather than stand on the outside and criticise,” the statement continued.
“A lot of things ran through my head on the day of the [Copa America] final. And I seriously considered leaving the team. But I love my shirt and my country too much.
“I want to thank all the fans who wanted me to keep playing for Argentina. I hope we can give them joy very soon.”
Bauza had met several of the Argentina squad in Barcelona recently, including Messi and Javier Mascherano, and left those meetings confident that the 29-year-old would return to international duty in the near future.
— Barca Galaxy (@barcagalaxy) June 28, 2016
Mascherano has also been named in the squad, and so too have Sergio Aguero, Ángel Di María and Lucas Biglia – all of whom were said to considering their international futures.
Interestingly, there is no place in the squad for Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuaín, The 28-year-old became one of the most expensive players of all time when he move to the Juventus Stadium from Napoli in a €90m deal recently, but question marks have since been raised about his weight and general fitness.
However, his exclusion still comes as a surprise.