Lionel Messi has announced via a press release that he would return to the Argentinian national team.
The announcement comes just a month and a half after retiring in the wake of Argentina’s loss in the Copa America Centenario finals.
“There were many thoughts in my head on the day of the [Copa America] final, and I seriously thought about quitting. But my love for my country and the shirt is too strong,” Messi said in his statement.
Messi’s decision was likely influenced by a visit from new Argentina coach Eduardo Bauza, who came to Spain tasked with convincing the superstar to reverse his retirement.
“There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to return to play for the national team,” Bauza told reporters in Argentina earlier Friday. “I saw him with a great desire to return.”
Bauza also met with other Argentinian players to reassure them of stability within the national team despite the turmoil throughout the country’s federation, which has been taken over by FIFA following structural unreliability and government intervention.
The 29-year-old has 55 goals – the most in Argentina history – in 113 appearances for the national team. However, he has infamously never won a major tournament with them, falling in two Copa America finals and a World Cup final in the process. Messi could make his return in the early September international window, when Argentina takes on Uruguay and Venezuela in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.