Happier than ever with national team
international football proved a source of frustration and difficulty, but that is no longer the case, with the former Barcelona star now happier than ever with Argentina.
In what has been a turbulent year in terms of club football, following an undesired and complicated exit from the team where he spent 17 years, Argentina now represents an oasis of tranquillity and happiness for Messi.
Winning the Copa America in the summer was a gamechanger. The 34-year-old had for so long craved international success, desperate to celebrate with his compatriots after so many triumphs with Barcelona.
He had also faced criticism for not leading his nation to glory but all that changed, and in Rio de Janeiro of all places, lifting an enormous weight off his shoulders. Now, the forward can enjoy international duty like never before.
In that climate, especially after his tumultuous summer and a less-than-sparkling start to life in Paris, drawing criticism from some in the French media, being with the Albiceleste is a refuge. In tough times, sometimes there’s no place like home.
“Winning the [Copa America] was incredible. I’d been fighting for that for years,” Messi told France Football this week.
“I’d been close on several occasions and to finally do it, in Brazil, against Brazil, was unbelievable. It was a dream come true. It was incredible to say to myself that I’d finally won a title with that shirt.
“It was a wonderful reconnection with the Argentinian people. I would have always had a strange feeling if I’d ended my career without winning something with my country. It was the title I was missing, I couldn’t give up.”
Relieved, overjoyed and once again in the discussion for the Ballon d’Or, which he won in 2019, the last time it was awarded.
Things continue to go well for Messi and Argentina together. The team have won three, drawn one and lost won since the Copa America triumph, while Messi has become to top-scoring South American international of all time.