Why Messi is not performing in a national jersey

European Golden Shoe of Lionel Messi displayed at the FC Barcelona MuseumCredits: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo; WikiMedia Commons
European Golden Shoe of Lionel Messi displayed at the FC Barcelona MuseumCredits: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo; WikiMedia Commons /

With the final whistle of the Copa America final we witness Sanchez gushing towards the fans with his heart pumping and behind him his compadres of La Roja surrounding him in pure joy and ecstasy.

On the other end, we again see a surprisingly natural scene of Messi with his head down trying to gulp down the fact that he and his team mates have failed their polity of Argentina once again which definitely brings back the memory of their World Cup final defeat at the hands of Germany in 2014.

This phenomenon is now getting usual for the Argentinian faithful where they seem to be entering a tournament with immense hope but at the crucial moment they just fail to cope with the pressure and ultimately bow down to a defeat.

I want to focus on Messi here because he is always said to be the torch bearer for Argentina, their knight in the shining armor who will lead the nation to their glory days since the time of the great Maradona.

In the World Cup, Messi was indeed one of the best players of the tournament where he pulled out Argentina from many dire circumstances. Similarly, in the Copa America he was out in the front leading the team and again took them to a major final.

But, to the surprise of many he failed to impact again in a national jersey in a final where he went quiet for most of the game and was off the pace on many occasions. If Messi doesn’t function properly then the whole Argentina team looks bent out of shape and that is exactly what happened in the match against Chile.

The question is why is this happening again and again ?

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My first assumption on why the best player in the world is faltering in his national colors is that, although he is surrounded by good players around him at Argentina, he is part of a better and well oiled machine in Barcelona where he is more comfortable.

He has been playing all his life in the Spanish club where he got the services of Xavi and Iniesta and now he is with Neymar and Suarez who are one of the best attacking talents in the world.

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Also, if we see teams such as Germany, they have most of their national players in the German league and if I need to be more specific, many of them are in the same club in Bayern Munich where they are playing together year in and year out.

So when they go to their national training camps they don’t have a hard time adjusting themselves to each others play and they form an instant connection.

Messi from the time he started playing club football, he did not have a chance of play with his Argentinian team mates apart from one or two. He may have played against them on some occasions but rarely with them.

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He meets them only when there is a national call up where he gets only some weeks to form a coordination with his team mates. If one is to perform in a major tournament and win it, a month or two of training with team mates with whom you haven’t played with, is not even close to enough.

Another factor for his failure and I maybe getting some stick from Messi and Argentina fans, is regarding his loyalty towards his nation. This maybe a pretty far fetched idea but does Messi really play with his heart and soul for his country as he does for his club Barcelona ?

Messi is like a son to Barcelona where they fed him and paid his medical bills from his childhood times when nobody was willing to lend a hand. So suffice to say, Barcelona occupies a special place in his heart and will always do so.

Now the question is does his nation Argentina mean the same for him as Barcelona ? To me it seems like it certainly does not. Messi was born in a relatively poor family and his rags to riches story features only him and Barcelona where the club provided him with all the facilities and help which made him what he is today.

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Take Barcelona out of the picture and maybe the prodigious talent of Messi would have remained hidden in plain sight.

The Argentina call up came when Messi made his name at Barcelona. So suffice to say, when seeing such an illustrious history between Messi and Barcelona, it can be deduced to some extent where Messi’s true loyalty may lie.

Club football may have taken precedence over national football in terms of viewership and fan following. But, no matter how many Champions League one may win, the World Cup still stands tall as football’s eternal prize.

Comparisons have been made between Messi and Maradona, about who is better. According to me both are excellent players in their own right, but Maradona is higher in my list because he took a mediocre Argentina team to two World Cup wins while Messi having a better team around him hasn’t been able to lift the golden trophy even once.

This statistics is as clear as it can get. Messi is a great player but great players achieve legendary status when they make the crucial decisions, play the crucial pass and score the most important goals when the team needs it the most.

Messi has achieved that but at the club level, but he needs a World Cup to stamp his authority as one of the eternal greats in football.

A loss in the 2014 World Cup and a loss in the Copa America final is not helping him at the moment.

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