Messi returns to Argentina squad

Lionel Messi said in a statement on Friday that he wished to continue playing for his country as he preferred "to help from within". He was duly included in Argentina's 27-man party for the two World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela.

Lionel Messi said in June that he would not play for Argentina again after the team lost to Chile in the final of the Copa America.   -  Reuters

Lionel Messi has announced that he will play on for Argentina, reversing his decision in June to retire from international soccer.

The Barcelona forward said he would not play for Argentina again after the team lost to Chile in the final of the Copa America in the United States.

However, in a statement on Friday, Messi explained that he wanted to continue representing his country as he preferred “to help from within".

“I consider there to be a lot of problems in Argentine football and it's not my intention to create another one,” the 29-year-old said.

“There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved in Argentine football but I prefer to help from within and not to criticise from the outside.

“A lot of things went through my mind on the night of the final and I gave serious thought to quitting but my love for my country and this shirt is too great,” the player said.

Messi will be named in new coach Edgardo Bauza's squad to face Uruguay and Venezuela in 2018 World Cup, South American qualifiers to be held in the first week of September.

Bauza was in Barcelona on Thursday for a meeting with his team captain.

Messi has lost four major finals with Argentina, three in the last two years including the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in Brazil. The June reverse in New Jersey was the second successive Copa America penalty shootout defeat by Chile in 12 months.

Messi, unhappy with the Argentine FA's running of the team, planned to speak out after the Copa final but felt he could not after they were beaten.

Messi was duly included in Argentina's 27-man party. However, Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain is not named, with club team-mate Paulo Dybala, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa, Atletico Mineiro's Lucas Pratto and River Plate's Lucas Alario the forwards joining Messi in the squad.

Argentina sits third in South America's 10-team qualifying standings, with three wins, two draws and a defeat from their opening six games. Its first opponent, Uruguay is in the top of the table, while its away match five days later comes against a Venezuela side which sits bottom.

Argentina squad to play Uruguay and Venezuela: 

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres).

Defenders: Facundo Roncaglia (Celta), Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton), Emmanuel Mas (San Lorenzo), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Martin Demichelis (Espanyol), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Matias Kranevitter (Sevilla), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Augusto Fernandez (Atletico Madrid), Ever Banega (Inter), Javier Pastore (PSG), Erik Lamela (Tottenham), Nicolas Gaitan (Atletico Madrid), Angel Di Maria (PSG).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Lucas Pratto (Atletico Mineiro), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus) and Lucas Alario (River).

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