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Argentina’s Lionel Messi hints at retirement

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Lionel Messi has come out of international retirement once before but it sounds like he may retire for good very soon.

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Messi, 30, will captain Argentina at the 2018 World Cup this summer after being persuaded to return to La Albiceleste following his knee-jerk retirement in the summer of 2016 after they lost the Copa America Centenario final to Chile on penalty kicks in New York City.

Speaking to Spanish outlet Sport, Messi was asked if he has plans to retire from the Argentine national team anytime soon.

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Here was his answer on the eve of the World Cup in Russia.

“I don’t know. It will depend how we do, how it ends,” Messi said. “The fact we’ve lost three finals now has led to some complicated moments with the Argentine press due to the differences in seeing what it means to reach a final. It is not easy and [reaching three finals] has to be appreciated. It’s true that winning them is important, but getting there is not easy.”

So, in a nutshell, unless Argentina win the World Cup or bow out heroically after dominating the tournament, he’s out.

The burden on Messi to deliver a major trophy for Argentina is intense and losing three consecutive major finals (2014 World Cup to Germany in extra time, then the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals to Chile on penalty kicks) hit him hard.

Argentina’s record goalscorer (64 goals in 124 appearances) will probably overtake Diego Maradona in terms of fame when his career is over, but that’s largely due to his success at club level with Barcelona after winning five Ballon d’Or trophies and becoming both the leading scorer for Barca and in La Liga’s history. Maradona delivered a World Cup success for Argentina in 1986 and single-handedly dragged the team through in Mexico. Messi will have plenty of help going forward in this tournament, but it’s true that plenty of problems elsewhere on the pitch persist for the South American giants.

There’s no doubt that Messi and his teammates such as Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Angel di Maria greatly value playing for their national team and at times it seems like they’re almost trying too hard to succeed.

Jorge Sampaoli has Argentina playing a high-pressing style but with defensive deficiencies obvious, once again, Messi’s knows he may never win the major trophy he craves on the international stage.

Maybe that’s what his comments are all about as he aims to put a rocket close to the posterior of his teammates in order to get them all pulling in the same direction and peak at the World Cup this summer.

Argentina have been placed in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria and they should make it safely out of the group stage.

Report: Borussia Dortmund enters race to sign Hudson-Odoi

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In what could look like a nightmare to Premier League sides, Borussia Dortmund could potentially play next season with two of England’s top young wingers.

[READ: Pogba “happy” at Man United]

After multiple failed attempts to sign Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi on a transfer last summer and in the January transfer window, Bayern Munich now has competition for Hudson-Odoi from Dortmund, according to a report in the Telegraph. With Christian Pulisic heading the opposite direction to Chelsea this summer, Hudson-Odoi could look at Dortmund and feel that his chances for first team minutes are better than at Stamford Bridge.

The 18-year-old, who has been called-up to the current England squad, is yet to start a Premier League match this season. Of course, Hudson-Odoi is behind the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian, who would start ahead of most players. But surely Hudson-Odoi will see how his England teammate Jadon Sancho has made 35 appearances, including starts in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League.

Sancho has also been subject to huge transfer speculation, especially from Manchester United, which could look to make a big splash this summer under new (or current) management. If he leaves on a $100 million-plus deal, Hudson-Odoi could be Sancho’s replacement as well.

Ultimately, should Hudson-Odoi leave the Premier League, it’s a lost opportunity for both Chelsea and the league to not only develop young players but provide them with playing time, assuming they’re deserving of it from practice.

Watch: A-League referee mic’d up during match

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Soccer around the globe is pretty transparent. We can see with our own eyes goals, fouls and red cards, as well as frame-by-frame slo-mo replays again and again. But the one aspect most people never get to see is about the referee. We never hear what the referee is saying to players, what’s in their mind as they’re consulting with the video assistant referee, or why they decided to make a certain decision. Until now.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In his final A-League match before moving to England to be in the League Championship pool of referees, Jarred Gillett agreed to be mic’d up by local broadcasters so that fans could hear the game through his senses. The result is an incredible display of communication, knowledge, confidence and refereeing expertise that gives the viewers a new-found respect for referees.

It may not be great in every circumstance, but getting to hear what referees are saying to players or coaches could certainly help endear them to fans and the media, instead of the standard bashing treatment most referees are afforded.

Watch the video below.

Beasley to miss 4-6 weeks with knee injury

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One of Major League Soccer’s elder statesman could have used this injury as a sign it’s time to hang up the boots. Instead, it will just be a brief spell on the sidelines.

DaMarcus Beasley posted a post-operation photo after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, according to the Houston Dynamo. Beasley said “I’ll be back in a flash” in his Instagram post after the surgery. The Dynamo did not specify when Beasley suffered this injury, but the 36-year-old has not played for the club in its first three league matches this season.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

If Beasley returns within the next four to six weeks, it would put his return around the middle to end of April. The Dynamo have a pair of home games at the end of April into May, against the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas, which may be a good time to bring Beasley back.

Sane, Low play down injury fears after horror tackle for Germany

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Leroy Sane suffered a tackle so graphic on video that in most cases would have ended up with a broken leg. Thankfully, Sane says he’s just fine.

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Late in Germany’s 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia on Wednesday evening, Serbia’s Milan Pavkov went over the ball and hit Sane’s leg directly with the studs of his cleats. Pavkov was shown a straight red card and Sane limped off the pitch. However, after the match, Sane assured fans that he’s doing all right.

“The foul looked worse than it was, everything is fine with my ankle,” Sane said after the match. “I’m very happy, we had a few good moves. We had good phases where the final pass was lacking, but I think that will come with time. Everyone could see that we got better and better.”

With the start of Euro 2020 qualifiers ahead and the announcement last month that Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Thomas Muller would no longer be with the national team, Joachim Low has started pushing a youth movement in the German National Team. Timo Werner started up top with Sane, 19-year-old Kai Havertz, and 22-year-old Julian Brandt in the three attacking midfield positions.

“It was a vicious foul,” Low said after the match, via Sky Sports. “Sane was lucky and got away with not getting hurt but such fouls can break bones.”

The news about Sane is a huge boost to Manchester City, which is still in the run for the quadruple in England and Europe. Sane will certainly play a big role with Pep Guardiola‘s side down the stretch.