As Argentina prepares to compete against Colombia on Tuesday, Head Coach Lionel Scaloni faced reporters on the issue of 5 time Ballon d’or winner Lionel Messi’s purported retirement and/or absence from National team duties.
Asked about Messi and his number 10, Scaloni told reporters: “There is only one answer for your question: every player who was in the World Cup kept his number, the ones who came here”
“In this time, the 10 shirt belongs to Messi and it will stay this way until he decides if he will continue with us or not”
Lionel Messi chose not to be available for Argentina’s matches against Guatemala and Colombia despite hitting a good run of form for Barcelona since the start of the 2018/2019 Season.
In fact, it has been widely reported that Lionel Messi may have called it quits from National team duties after Argentina’s disastrous performance at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“We aren’t closed to that chance( of Lionel Messi returning) so I chose to keep this number for him”- Scaloni
“In the future we will see, but if you look at the players who played the World Cup you will see they kept their numbers, and we wait for the future to see what happens, but so far no one is using the 10 because it is exclusive for him and that is my decision. There is nothing else about this.”- Lionel Scaloni
Ba Messi was absent as Argentina outclassed Guatemala 3-0 in California on Friday with first-half goals from Gonzalo Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso and Giovanni Simeone helping Argentina to the win.
“It is obvious that when the best player of the world [Messi] is not in the pitch playing with Argentina, the team loses, there is no doubt about it,” Scaloni added.
“But our idea is to assemble a team in case he is with us again so he feels comfortable with us, nothing else”
“In the mean time we make a team, we call a group of guys who understand what implies to play with these colours, then in the future we will see what happens”- Lionel Scaloni