Argentina has made a big but bizarre decision concerning forward Lionel Messi as Barcelona star considers retirement from international football.
Messi has excused himself from international duty following the World Cup, in which the South Americans crashed out in the Round of 16 against eventual winners France. He has notably missed Argentina’s recent friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia, which they won 3-0 and drew 0-0 respectively.
After those games, Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero told reporters that Messi’s number 10 shirt was conspicuously unavailable for players in the squad.
“The No.10 jersey has always been used. I don’t understand why it’s not being used now. I haven’t asked. I haven’t inquired. I had no idea that it wasn’t going to be used,” he said.
“In all the friendlies, it has always been available. Probably, for some reason, it will not be used now. I just found out.”
Thereafter, Argentina caretaker boss Lionel Scaloni provided answers to Romero’s questions, stating that the Argentina federation has decided to temporarily retire Messi’s jersey no. 10 as a sign of respect.
Scaloni further explained that the number will consequently be reinstated when the five-time Ballon d’Or winner makes a decision on his future with the Albicelete.
“Most of the players that went to the World Cup have kept their numbers,” explained Scaloni.
“In this case, Argentina’s No.10 belongs to Messi until he says whether or not he will continue. In principle, we do not have a negative from him. I have made the decision that nobody uses it.”