Messi durante el juego ante Venezuela

Argentina and Messi are on separate paths

OPINION

He returned with the same desire as a youngster making his debut but was hit with a cruel dose of reality. Lional Messi found out, once again, that playing with Argentina isn't the same as with Barça. The 'Albiceleste' doesn't have a Suarez, a Dembele, a Busquets or a Rakitic. He was surrounded by a new generation of footballers who aren't world class yet. Scaloni is partly right to focus on creating a new Argentina squad but when the players aren't as good as the ones they are replacing, it's difficult to create a team which is capable of competing.

Argentina suffered at the World Cup and it appears they still have a long way to go. Messi has a difficult decision ahead of him. Thankfully he can now spend a week at the Camp Nou which should ease the pressure on his shoulders, mentally at least.

Leo is the only leader that Argentina have and the side depends entirely on him. There's no doubt this is because he's the best player in the world. But Leo doesn't only have to lead the team on the pitch but also off it. With a youthful side around him, he doesn't have any other choice. That demand will punish him in the next few years of his career.

Messi's return to the national team had a sour taste to it. Plenty of people will ask whether that extra commitment is worth the demands it comes with or not. However that decision will always belong to one person: Leo. For him, Argentina has always been a dream and a challenge. He wanted to come back and he'll do everything within his power to win something important with his country.

What he might need to consider is only being involved in official matches and tournaments. In the summer they'll compete in the Copa America and beyond that even more challenges lie ahead. Argentina are rebuilding and their coach must realise that Messi needs quality and experience alongside him. If not, it's impossible for them to win anything.

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