Editorial (July 2, 2018) — Kylian Mbappé and France broke Argentina’s heart with a 4-3 win in the round of 16 to send the South Americans back home
That means Lionel Messi’s dream to lift the World Cup trophy is over once again, and maybe this time, forever.
Is Lionel Messi’s World Cup Career At an End?
Argentina advanced to the knockout stage by the skin of their teeth after a turbulent first round where the Barcelona striker did not really show up.
Messi disappointed, scoring just one goal in four matches. Once again, the 32-year-old player could not fit with his national team.
And this time was different because Messi is in his closing years as a professional footballer and no one knows if he will be in a good shape for another World Cup tournament at 35 years old.
Still, we are not even sure if he will continue with Argentina after this poor performance by the team as a whole in Russia.
Back in 2016, Messi announced he wouldn’t play anymore with Argentina following their defeat against Chile in the Copa America Centenario final. At the time, it was the third final loss for Messi’s side in three consecutive years.
“It is incredible, but this is not for me,” Messi said in 2016 after their defeat to Chile where he missed a penalty in the penalty shootout.
This year could be the same history, but this time, it looks like Messi’s international retirement will be forever.
In 2016, the world star changed his decision and came back to the national team to play the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers and somehow he managed to send his country to Russia after he scored a hat-trick against Ecuador in the last match day.
A Generation Departs
However, it is time for Argentina to move on and get rid of some veteran players. Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia said goodbye after the loss to France. Other players like Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di María, Gabriel Mercado, Enzo Pérez, Nicolas Otamendi and goalkeeper Willy Caballero can do the same and retire from the national team.
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said it is time for the new generation to take the place and bring new hope to the country.
Messi has some deep thinking ahead of him. He might feel that there’s unfinished business with the Copa America, so the five-time Ballon d’Or winner might stay on in the attempt to win at least one trophy with his national team.
Even so, his body is getting older, and the speed is not the same. Think about building a team around Messi for the next World Cup could cost Argentina another four years of frustration.
Messi’s era seems to be over. He tried to lead Argentina to glory on multiple occasions only for the team to come up short each time. It includes going down in four finals with La Albiceleste: Copa America 2007, 2014 FIFA World Cup, Copa America 2015 and Copa América Centenario 2016.
There appeared to be hope after a remarkable season with Barcelona where he ended up as the top goalscorer in Europe with 45 goals and also won two trophies.
Unfortunately, he simply can not win with his beloved Argentina. It’s been enough for him.
Messi’s international walkout might be definitive.
Looking Into the Future
On the other hand, there are players in line to succeed Messi, including Paulo Dybala. It’s a surprise Sampaoli didn’t utilize the young Juventus attacker more often. He played a paltry 22 minutes in Russia.
And there are many others who didn’t even made the 23-man list like Inter’s pair Mauro Icardi and Lautaro Martínez along with Roma’s Diego Perotti.
The future is bright for Argentina as it’s a country full of football talent, but they have to capitalize on how to work together.