There can be little doubting Lionel Messi’s importance to Argentina.
The Barcelona star is far and away his country’s finest current footballing asset and is simply an irreplaceable member of the squad. After all, the 29-year-old was practically begged to go back on his decision to retire from the international game.
However, Messi’s national team return has already hit a snag with Barcelona revealing he’s picked up a hamstring injury. While its severity is currently unknown, it looks unlikely that the talisman will feature in upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
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With Cristiano Ronaldo perhaps the only other player comparable to Messi, the 29-year-old is a ludicrously prominent boost to any team.
This is no more so the case than when he sports his national jersey. Messi won the Golden Ball on the way to captaining Argentina to a World Cup final and was unfortunate to leave defeated in two consecutive Copa America climaxes.
The latter loss saw the four-time Champions League winner retire from international duties. However, his unprecedented influence saw him swiftly persuaded to go back on his word.
Consequently, ahead of crucial qualifying clashes with Uruguay and Venezuela, the potential absence of Messi is a concerning proposition.
"His presence in those matches will depend on how the injury develops," a Barcelona statement read.
Medical tests on Monday revealed the issue with the 29-year-old’s left hamstring proving the culprit. The news immerged despite the fact Messi featured, seemingly unscathed; in Barcelona’s weekend win at Athletic Bilbao.
There is still a debate over how long Messi will be ruled out, however. The fact the Barca forward is still travelling to South America with his compatriots does present a glimmer of hope.
Nonetheless, regardless of the severity, the blow to Argentina cannot be doubted. It appears that as soon as they pried Messi back, circumstances have once again conspired against the two-time World Cup winners and their skipper.
Do you think Lionel Messi was right to change his mind over international retirement? Have YOUR say in the comment box below