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Lionel Messi has time to reflect on Argentina future - AFA president

Interim coach Lionel Scaloni admits he's uncertain if Lionel Messi will return to the national team, but is optimistic for the newcomers to the side.
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Argentina Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said Lionel Messi will be given all the time he wants "to feel the need or the eagerness to return to the national team."

Messi has taken an indefinite leave from the Albiceleste after captaining them to the round of 16 at the World Cup and was not included in Argentina interim coach Lionel Scaloni's squad for friendlies against Guatemala in Los Angeles on Sept. 7 and Colombia in New Jersey four days later

"We have to leave Messi alone, give him the opportunity to feel the need or the eagerness to come to the national team," Tapia said to Cronica TV.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was hugely disappointed with Argentina's early exit from this summer's tournament but has not publicly addressed his future. Scaloni recently admitted he doesn't know if Messi will return to play for the national team again.

Messi's mother, Celia Cutticini, revealed during the World Cup in Russia that her son has been deeply affected by criticism of his performances for Argentina. Pressure led Messi to quit the national team, albeit briefly, in 2016 after Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa America final.

Tapia, who spoke last month of how important it is for his organisation to have Messi play for the national team for financial reasons, believes too much responsibility was unfairly placed on the 31-year-old.

"Instead of taking advantage of having the best player in the world and allowing him to enjoy the World Cup, we made him responsible for something that is a collective game," he said. "You can have an important individual talent but one person doesn't win a game or a World Cup."

Argentina won just one game in Russia, a 2-1 triumph over Nigeria in the group stage.

"We had a lot of expectations and it was a very important opportunity because it was the last for many players of this generation," Tapia said. "We didn't arrive at the World Cup in the best way."

Tapia also said Argentina will not name a full-time replacement for Jorge Sampaoli until 2019. Scaloni was chosen along with Pablo Aimar to temporarily guide the team following Sampaoli's sacking shortly after the World Cup with the AFA looking to appoint a fourth coach in four years.

"There is a generation of former [Argentina] players like Aimar and Scaloni that in the future will be great coaches and the AFA has to consider them," Tapia said. "We are going to take some time until the end of the year to have a project and the names of those that make up the national team commission.Then we will bring a coach.

"We will listen to everyone. We have the opportunity not to rush, it's a 10-year project and we have to take the best decision. We have not spoken to any coach yet, the only one that we did talk to was Scaloni and he said yes."

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