Lionel Messi is back in an Argentina shirt and it is like he had never been away. Considering he missed all of zero games in his two-month international retirement, he essentially never left.
The Barcelona star felt he could no longer handle the heartache that came with playing for the Albiceleste after suffering his third defeat in a major final in three successive summers.
However, it only took a pre-season break and a pep talk from Argentina's new manager Edgardo Bauza to get him back in a blue and white shirt. And it seems the time spent reflecting has completely rejuvenated him.
Messi was a man possessed during Argentina's crucial World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on Thursday evening. A win would leave them top of the ten-team group while a loss could have potentially seen them slip down as low as sixth.
Of course, it was the five-time Ballon d'Or winner who would eventually make the difference, scoring the only goal of the game in the 43rd minute. His 25-yard strike was aided by a deflection from Uruguay defender Jose Gimenez but he will claim it as his 57th goal for his country.
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But it was not his goal that was the highlight of his evening. That went to a moment early in the second half in which he tormented three Uruguayan players before drawing a foul. One unfortunate fellow was left facing completely the other way after Messi nutmegged him with a fantastically delicate touch.
Take a look at the moment in the video below:
The Messi Deception
Messi shocked Argentina by deciding to retire from the national team following their loss to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final in June.
There is still plenty of bad blood between Messi, the fans and, mostly, the country's media. In fact, it was the pressure placed on him that contributed to his decision to retire, albeit temporarily.
And the sharks were back out after the game with one journalist accusing Messi of 'deceiving' fans over the true motives behind his retirement. Many believe he stepped out of the national setup to make sure fans no longer took him for granted. He denies this claim.
"I am very grateful [to return to the national team]," Messi told TV Publica. "But I did not deceive anybody when I retired, I felt that.
"We were very disappointed with what had happened, but after that I thought better. I had a conversation with the Paton [Bauza] and the people as well accompanied me through it."
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