BUENOS AIRES: Lionel Messi has been named in Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers squad, less than two months after quitting national team football following the Copa America Centenario final defeat by Chile in June.
But in a statement reported by media in Argentina, the Barcelona striker said he made the U-turn for the “love of the country” and “to help from within”.
His volte-face followed talks with new national coach Edgardo Bauza and ahead of qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezeula at the beginning of September.
Messi missed in the penalty shootout defeat by Chile, as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years.
“A lot of things went through my mind on the night of the final and I gave serious thought to quitting, but my love for my country and this shirt is too great,” Argentina’s all-time record goalscorer is reported as saying.
“We need to fix many things in Argentinian football, but I prefer to do this from inside and not criticise from outside.”
Messi’s only major international honour is Olympic gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
As well as losing two Copa America finals on penalties to Chile, he was in the Argentina side beaten 1-0 by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
The forward, who was been awarded the Ballon d’Or for the world’s best player five times, was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final.
Messi is named in Bauza’s squad alongside Manchester City trio Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and Nicolas Otamendi, Manchester United pair Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo and Ramiro Funes Mori of Everton. Tottenham’s Erik Lamela made it seven Premier League players in total, with Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Javier Mascherano also among the 27-man squad.
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