Lionel Messi quitting Argentina would be understandable - Gerardo Martino
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino says if he were Lionel Messi he would have retired from international football due to criticism received from the local media.
Messi was criticised by some in his home country following the team's penalty shootout defeat to hosts Chile in this summer's Copa America final, with former Argentina player and coach Diego Maradona among those questioning why the Barcelona star could not translate his club form to the international stage.
The 28-year-old has won every available trophy for Barca while also picking up four individual Ballon d'Or awards, but he has yet to win any silverware with the senior Argentina side, who also lost the 2014 World Cup final.
Argentine FA president Luis Segura said last month it would be a "shame" if Messi were to walk away, but former Barcelona boss Martino told FOX Sports show "90 Minutos de Futbol" he would not tolerate the criticism if he were in the forward's position.
"If I were in Messi's place I would have stopped playing with the national team a long time ago, but I would keep playing for Barcelona," Martino said. "To speak about the criticism of Messi is to give strength to something that does not deserve any type of analysis."
Press reports in Argentina have also recently suggested that Messi would miss the upcoming friendly against Mexico on Sept. 8, to be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Martino said that talk of his captain taking a break from international duty were coming from outside the camp.
THE BEST OF ESPN FC
- Bell: Liverpool fans make themselves heard
- Cox: Leicester improving | Why Poch should stay
- Okwonga: Man United's market | City's title hopes
- Laurens: PSG's pre-UCL issues | Hertha's curse
- Highlights (U.S. only): Stuttgart 1-3 BVB
- FC TV: Champions League W2W4 | LVG wrong
- News | Transfer | Toe Poke | Fantasy | FC TV | Podcast | MLS
"It has not come from his mouth, nor my mouth, nor the mouth of the Argentine FA president that Messi was going to take a rest from the national team," he said. "It is very difficult to have to explain something that none of those involved has generated."
Pressed on whether he could confirm Messi would play in what would be a rare appearance on U.S. soil, Martino said he was certain to name the player in his squad.
"I am going to call up Messi, but I am not sure he will be there," he said. "It would be very frustrating, although it would be understandable, if Messi did not come with the national team."