East Rutherford (United States): It looks like Argentina’s top goal scorer Lionel Messi’s shocking retirement from international football, following the loss to Chile in the Copa America final, has had a grave impact on the national team. According to media reports Messi’s teammates Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero have followed suit while others from the team are contemplating the same move.
(The translation says: Mascherano will not continue playing for the Argentina team.)
The 32-year-old Mascherano is one of the most capped players in Argentina history and his retirement will be the last nail in the Argentina coffin if they have any hopes to make it to Russia for the FIFA World Cup in 2018.
Mascherano, who has been the backbone of the Argentine defence, was part of the national team which made it to three major finals. However, it looks like the pain of losing three finals in a row seems to be too much for the Barcelona star. He served as skipper of the side as well from 2008-2011.
Young striker Aguero has also announced his retirement, ESPN Argentina confirms. The 28-year-old, who has played with Messi for over a decade, has not been in favour with the team playing second fiddle to Gonzalo Higuain in the recently concluded South American tournament.
While Higuain failed to score, Aguero netted the last goal of the 5-0 cruise against Panama after going on as a sub for the last 14 minutes.
Aguero revealed Messi’s devastation after the final. "We are all s****y, we are trying to think about other things and continue on forward. But it's hard. Once again luck has gone against us. Unfortunately, the most broken one is Messi for his missed penalty. It is the worst I have ever seen him in the dressing rooms after a game," he said.
It is learnt that Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Biglia are expected to announce their retirement in the coming days. Other media reports in South America have also linked Angel Di Maria with a potential retirement soon.
While the situation in the Argentine camp is quite tense, there is one player who wishes for a Messi comeback —goalkeeper Sergio Romero. "I think he spoke while he was heated, because a beautiful opportunity escaped us. I can't imagine a national team without Messi. I think he'll reflect (on the decision)," Romero said.
Argentina's next matches come with the World Cup qualifiers on September 1 at home when they face Uruguay before a trip to Venezuela.