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Jul, 15, 2011

Grondona: Messi could quit

Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona has warned that Lionel Messi could call time on his international career if the criticism from fans and the country's media continues.

• Copa America: Argentina progress

Messi came under fire for below-par performances in the first two group games at the Copa America before sealing Argentina's progress against Costa Rica.

Now, with a quarter-final clash against Uruguay awaiting, Grondona has warned that Argentina could lose their prized asset if they continually expect him to replicate his form for Barcelona on the international stage.

"The solution would be for Messi to say: 'I will not come any more, I will stay in Spain'," the president told Radio Cooperativa.

"What everyone acknowledges is that the Argentines want to put him down. Messi was born in Rosario, he lived and played there, he had growth problems. He followed his path, found a place - Barcelona - and they took care of him as if he was born there.

"And despite this, he said no to Spain because he wanted to play for Argentina. We have to reflect on this."

Messi's team-mate Carlos Tevez has previously said he could quit Argentina because of the pressure placed upon him when playing for his country, but the Barcelona star claimed club and country are two very different things.

"I've never been bothered by what they say in the press and I never will be," Messi said. "I don't think anyone likes it when they're whistled and insulted. We're the first ones who want to do things well.

"It's a mistake to compare this team to Barcelona. We've all been working together at Barcelona for a long time.

"In the national team we're trying to do something similar, keeping hold of the ball, dictating the rhythm of the game, but you can't compare the two teams, either as a group or in terms of individuals."

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