Lionel Messi has a fascinating relationship with Argentina.
While there can be no denying that the Barcelona star is adored in his home nation, you get the impression that he has never reached the God-like status of the late, great Diego Maradona.
Now, obviously, being unfavourably compared to arguably the greatest footballer of all time is hardly a criticism, but it’s nonetheless surprising that Messi isn’t loved more than he is back in Argentina.
Messi’s relationship with Argentina
There are a lot of factors behind that and the amount of time that Messi has spent in Spain – to such an extent that he could have played for Las Rojas – has no doubt played a major role.
Another, of course, is that Messi hasn’t been able to bring international glory to the Argentina side, losing the 2014 World Cup final and two consecutive Copa America climaxes.
But make no mistake that Argentina makes up a massive part of Messi’s identity and you only have to look back on that 2014 summer in Brazil to see what the national team really means to him.
Messi vs River Plate
And perhaps Messi will even return to Argentina one day with the 33-year-old, although believed to now be interested in the MLS, having previously touted a reunion with Newell’s Old Boys.
However, Messi hasn’t been completed isolated from Argentinean club football since his move to Barcelona and actually came head-to-head with River Plate at the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup.
Having won the Champions League with the Blaugrana earlier that year, Messi was competing to conquer the world and locked horns with the Argentine kings during the final in Japan.
Messi apologising for scoring
In the end, Barcelona emerged comfortable 3-0 winners with Messi bagging the opening goal, but his strike will go down in history for the fact that, well, the man himself apologised for scoring it.
Messi briefly celebrated with his Barcelona teammates, before eventually turning to the 16,000 River Plate fans and apologetically raising his hand in acknowledgment of the pain he’d caused them.
And according to Sport, when asked about the moment in an interview, Messi told FIFA: “I know how much effort all those fans made in making that trip and how excited they were.
“And there was me, the Argentinian, scoring the first goal and ruining it all for them. I don’t know if I was actually saying sorry, but it was a type of apology.”
Sad for Messi
It really makes you feel sorry for Messi, doesn’t it? Try as he might, he just can’t seem to get things right when it comes to Argentina, so much so that he felt the need to apologise for his goal.
Nevertheless, six years later and Messi is still sporting the blue and white jersey of his nation, heading into Copa America and World Cup tournament as he looks to wind down his career.
We can only hope that however those two competitions play out that Messi won’t feel the need to have to apologise for them.