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Messi’s not ready to bow out

Sports 19 Dec, 2022 Follow News

Messi’s not ready to bow out

Messi’s not ready to bow out

By Staff Writer 

Lionel Messi admirers are thrilled that the little genius is continuing his international career after what seemed to be a fitting swansong in the World Cup final.

Messi dismissed the expectation that he is retiring from Argentina duty after claiming a first world title in spectacular style, saying he wants to "continue as a champion".

He scored twice against holders France, and again in the decisive penalty shoot-out, as the World Cup in Qatar was decided on penalties following a 3-3 draw after extra-time.

The 35-year-old won the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament after scoring seven times to help Argentina become world champions for the first time since 1986, and the third time overall. The last time was in 1986 when another diminutive left-foot legend, the late Diego Maradona, inspired Argentina to glory. This victory was hailed as much for the passing of Maradona as anything else.

The accepted notion was that no matter the outcome, the 2022 World Cup would be the last we see of the slippery maestro whose pace and verve are clearly waning.

But Messi announced: "No, I'm not going to retire from the Argentina national team, I want to continue playing as a champion.” He is unlikely to feature in another World Cup, but could help retain the Copa America in 2024.

Messi added: "It's crazy that it happened this way. I wanted it very much. I knew that God was going to give it to me, I had a feeling that it was going to be this way. Now to enjoy it.”

At club level Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the current season, but has an option to extend by a year. He may be in his twilight playing years but Messi is still motivated at club level to win all the individual and team honours available. Probably inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo who is still a force at 37, Messi wants to rinse out every element of elite level football before bowing out even though this victory completed every possible honour out there.

There is speculation he could see out his playing days at Inter Miami, David Beckham’s team, but the Americans who have to top his weekly wage bill of $600,000.

The final pitted Messi against the other superstar Kylian Mbappe, who despite scoring a hat-trick and collecting the Golden Boot for eight goals, still finished a loser. Wayne Rooney is urging the 23-year-old Frenchman to join Manchester United or Real Madrid to reach the heights.

Mbappe has been fantastic for Paris Saint-Germain in his four years there, scoring 190 times with 93 assists from just 190 appearances in all competitions.

At $1.3 million a week, he is by far the world’s best paid player. But to aspire to legendary status, Rooney believes he needs to “leave that club and go to the Premier League. PSG is a massive club, but I think he’s done everything he can in Ligue 1. If he needs to reach the level of Messi and Ronaldo, I think he needs to join Manchester United or Real Madrid.”

United are currently in transition under manager Erik ten Hag and their minimum objective for the season should be Champions League qualification.

If they manage to do so, they have a good chance of pursuing world-class players next summer, but a deal for Mbappe looks improbable. Aside from a world-record fee, they would also have to shatter their wage structure and adhere to the Financial Fair Play rules. The fact that Mbappe has developed an arrogant attitude is not an attractive element for potential suitors either. Diva behaviour has alienated him from teammates, coaches and staff.

PSG’s priority remains to win the elusive Champions League. Qatar own PSG, so budgetary constraints are not an issue. With Messi, Mbappe and Neymar in the side, it’s a wonder they have not done so already. But all three have massive egos which cannot bode well for team harmony. Football is a team game and no matter how accomplished the individual, if the chemistry is not right, then it cannot be successful.


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