Soccer rumors have swirled that Lionel Messi — who abruptly announced his retirement Sunday — will not be the only player to quit the Argentine national team, according to multiple sources.
ESPN has reported that as many as seven other soccer players may join Lionel Messi and announce their own retirement from international play. Rumors have suggested that stars Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, and Lucas Biglia are also set to announce their retirement, while Ever Banega, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Angel Di Maria, and Gonzalo Higuain will consider the same thing. Sergio Aguero confirmed the rumors after the match.
“Some of us are evaluating not playing for the national team anymore. Some [players] in the locker room are looking really bad; I don’t think they’ll continue with the national team. If you think about it, creating opportunities for other players is a good thing for the national team.”
Lionel Messi — perhaps the biggest star in the game today — abruptly announced his retirement Sunday after losing to the Chilean team in the Copa America finals 4-2 on penalty kicks. The loss is the third straight failure to win a major international tournament in as many years for the Argentine national team and Lionel Messi, including a loss last year at the same tournament to Chile.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) June 27, 2016
Lionel Messi was only competing in the Copa America tournament this year, a decision the Argentine National Team coach Gerardo Martino made Thursday, according to The Indian Express. None of the nine players already announced for the Argentine national team that will compete in the 2016 Olympics are among the ones rumored to be considering retirement from international competition.
Deadspin is reporting that Lionel Messi and others could be using the threat of retirement as a means to prod changes in the Argentine Football Association (AFA). The organization has seen a wave of changes recently due to multiple financial scandals.
“[Julio] Grondona’s successor, AFA president Luis Segura, was indicted last week along with six other executives and three former presidential cabinet heads… Things have gotten so bad that on Friday FIFA stepped in to seize control of the AFA.”
With the AFA mired in scandals, Lionel Messi and his Argentine cohorts could have used the national stage a Copa America final provided them as means to provoke reform before the 2018 World Cup, the article suggested. “Messi will be 30 years old at the start of the next World Cup, and it is hard to imagine him not being there.”
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) June 27, 2016
The Deadspin article isn’t the only source to believe that Lionel and the other players contemplating retirement will reconsider their decisions. Argentine coach Gerardo Martino — who was not informed of the Lionel Messi retirement decision prior to speaking with media Sunday night — thought that the political issues facing the AFA would be resolved soon and had no impact on the team.
“None of [the AFA issues] has had any impact on us or can be used as an excuse, because we reached the final, and we should’ve won it… [Lionel Messi] is the way any footballer must be when he gets to the final and then loses. Certainly, to lose again is too painful to assume a posture that’s any different than that, either on the field or in the dressing room.”
Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero agreed with his coach that retirement talk immediately following the hard-to-swallow loss was happening too soon. “I think that [Lionel Messi] spoke in the heat of the moment because a good opportunity passed us by,” Romero said.
Do you think that Lionel Messi and the other Argentine squad members threatening retirement will reconsider their decisions? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
[Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]