Lionel Messi has hinted that he may retire from international football if he and his Argentina team-mates have an unsuccessful 2018 World Cup.
The Barcelona legend said he would never play for his country again after their 2016 Copa America final loss to Chile, but he made a U-turn just two months later.
A poor performance at Russia 2018 could see Messi vanish again, though, according to the man himself.
‘If we do badly at the World Cup, we all have to disappear from the national team. It’ll be difficult for some to stay on,’ he told TyC Sports.
One player who has already announced his intention to end his Argentina career after the World Cup is Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Javier Mascherano.
The 33-year-old’s time at Barca could also be coming to an end, after a lack of appearances this season sparked talk of a possible move away from the Nou Camp.
‘Mascherano? I’m not going to tell you what he told me, but I’ll understand if he leaves, he wants to play more,’ Messi added.
‘I understand Masche. The best thing is to play and enjoy yourself, and he doesn’t think he’ll get minutes here.’
Messi himself has also been left out of the team in recent weeks. He started Barca’s last two Champions League matches as a sub, something he admits he did not like.
He explained: ‘Bench role? It’s hard for me not to play or to be subbed off, but I realised and understood that it was for the best.
‘Being on the bench is horrible. It looks easier from the outside.’
Argentina were placed in Group D at last week’s World Cup draw, alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.