Lionel Messi committed to Argentina, says Julio Ricardo Grondona
BUENOS AIRES -- Injured Barcelona striker Lionel Messi is a little upset by the criticism he received after the World Cup, but has no plans to distance himself from the Albiceleste according to Julio Ricardo Grondona -- president of Argentine league club Arsenal -- on Thursday.
Grondona said Messi will dole out his friendly participation for Argentina "in doses" at Barcelona's request, but has promised to be available for key matches, especially the Copa America in Chile in 2015.
"It's true that Leo is a bit hurt by the criticism and the things that were said," Grondona told Radio Guemes. "That's why one of the requests we have made is that he return in honour of my father."
Julio Grondona, a FIFA vice president and an Argentine football federation executive for 35 years, died this past July at age 82.
Messi, 27, was the Golden Ball winner at the World Cup this past summer, where Argentina lost to Germany, 1-0, in the final.
The Albiceleste gained a modicum of revenge for July's World Cup final defeat to Germany with an Angel Di Maria-inspired 4-2 friendly win in Dusseldorf last week, but national captain Messi was missing having pulled out of the squad as a precaution with a minor adductor muscle problem.
"It is a just a matter of time before he returns," Grondona said. "Leo has to rest for future matches."
Argentina has two more friendlies slated for 2014, the first on Oct. 11 vs. Brazil in Beijing and the second three days later in Hong Kong.