There’s still the third-place game to play, but in effect, Argentina’s Copa America is over, and now the national team can turn its attention towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
But there will be at least one major question hanging over the Albiceleste over the next few months. Will Lionel Messi play for Argentina again? And what about other veterans, such as Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi?
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For Messi, when asked about his future after the match, he seemed like he hadn’t made up his mind.
“Yes, I do not know,” Messi told reporters after Brazil’s 2-0 win on Tuesday over Argentina. “I enjoyed myself very well with this group. If I have to help, I’m going to do it, there’s a nice team to grow and if I can help from wherever I am and accompany them, I’ll be there.”
For Aguero, he was much clearer. He’ll always be there if called.
“I am available to follow, if they call me,” Aguero said. “I will never say no to the national team.”
Messi is now 32-years old, while Aguero is 31-years old. By 2022, the pair will be 35 and 34, respectively, certainly not at their physical peak. And yet, it’s likely that others won’t take their place by then and force them out of the national team.
For Messi, he’s had multiple occassions where he’s “retired” from the national team. The first came after the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the U.S., when he said he wouldn’t play for Argentina again due to administrative mishaps during the tournament, as well as exhaustion after three straight years of losing in the final.
After the 2018 World Cup, in which Argentina struggled and was run over by France in the round of 16, Messi again took a break from the national team, but came back this spring for a pair of friendlies before this summer’s Copa America.
Aguero sits a few caps shy of 100, while Messi is well above that mark, but both players’ club teams will surely welcome a break for at least one season to allow the players to focus on the club campaigns fully, and not have to travel across the Atlantic Ocean for games.
An Argentina without Messi in it will look much different, but that future could be here as early as this weekend.