MADRID: Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza believes Lionel Messi deserves to retire from international football in style as a World Cup winner.
Messi flirted with the notion of quitting playing for his country after three successive final heartbreaks, to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and to Chile in the Copa America in 2015 and earlier this year.
But the Barcelona star had a change of heart after talks with Bauza in August.
For Bauza, Messi’s initial decision was borne out of frustration rather than any real desire to turn his back on Argentina.
“When we were chatting it occurred to me he was very interested in selection and what worried him more than anything was how to improve.”
According to Bauza: “I didn’t meet Messi to persuade him, I was convinced that during our chat a chance would open up.”
Joining five-time World Player of the Year Messi at the meeting with the new boss of the Albiceleste in Barcelona was his club team-mate Javier Mascherano.
“After our talks all I had to say was ‘ok boys, you’ll be picked for the next game’,” Bauza recalled in an interview in Sunday’s Catalan newspaper Sport.
“I reckon he still has a lot to give to the team. He deserves to take his retirement in another way, he deserves to end his international career as a champion.”