You would think that winning four Ballon d'Or titles and single-handedly dragging your nation to the final of the World Cup would make you a hero in your homeland - not for Lionel Messi.
Instead of receiving rapturous applause for another astonishing display in the final of the Club World Cup, Messi was spat on as he departed back to Barcelona.
The kind of hateful behaviour shown at the Narita airport in Tokyo is the reason football still gets a bad name. The mob mentality of supporters of River Plate distance football from many because of the violence and aggression it causes; it's very well supporting your team, but the fan who spat at Messi is just one of a plethora of fans who cross the line.
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What's the problem with Messi?
Some Argentines dislike Messi because they feel he has turned his back on the country. He left for Barcelona when he was 13 and the most important years of his life were spent in Spain, so it's understandable that Messi has a lot of gratitude towards the country where he currently lives.
Those in a position of power tried to persuade Messi to adopt Spanish citizenship over his native country, a proposition which Messi firmly rejected. The Argentina public don't like that Messi was offered the chance to play for Spain, overlooking the fact that Messi turned down the offer.
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Another gripe Argentines have with Messi is they believe that he performs better for Barcelona than he does for his country. Whilst the goals and assists stats suggest this to be true, only scoring 49 goals for your country isn't a reason to be spat on.
It's ridiculous to criticise your country's best player for only playing very well as opposed to exceptionally well. If the Argentina public don't become more appreciative of Messi, he could turn his back on the national team sooner than they think.
Does Messi need Argentina?
If Messi were to retire from international duty anytime soon, it would possibly hinder his chances of becoming the undisputed greatest ever player. Many still hold Messi's lack of the World Cup trophy against him, pointing to the fact that Diego Maradona inspired Argentina to a World Cup triumph. Messi may want to stay with Argentina until at least the next World Cup, even if it is for purely selfish reasons.
Without Messi, Argentina still have a selection of world class forwards: Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Paulo Dybala would make for quite a fearsome forward line, but they would struggle to power their country to a major trophy. As much as Messi is desperate to win the World Cup with Argentina, he doesn't need to do it to be considered the greatest; whereas Argentina need him to stand any chance of victory in 2018.
Do you think Messi should turn his back on his country? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below
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