Diego Maradona: I would tell Messi not to return to the Argentina team
El Diego sympathises with Lionel Messi
Diego Maradona has advised Lionel Messi not to return to international football, even for competitive fixtures.
Messi semi-retired from international football after the 2018 World Cup, as he opted to sit out of Argentina's non-competitive matches during the 2018/19 season. The Barcelona star is still expected to return to the side for next summer's Copa America, though.
However, Maradona does not believe he should return, as he has already given everything he can to the Argentina national team.
"What would I tell Messi? To not come back any more. To retire," the current Dorados coach told Clarin on Sunday.
"The Under-15s lose and it is Messi's fault, the fixture list in Argentina puts Racing against Boca and Messi is to blame. He is always to blame. Stop breaking my balls," he added.
"I would tell him: 'don't go anymore, man'. Let's see if they can handle that. Let's see if they're really big men.
"I would have liked to see him tell us all to f**k off. Because he is not to blame for us not being world champions. Fine, we all placed our hopes in him, but when you go to the racetrack you hope your horse wins and he comes in eighth.
"In Formula One Vettel has a great engine and Hamilton beats him. Right now the national team doesn't do anything for me or for the people. We have lost that. The passion. It cannot play against Nicaragua or Malta, no, brother. We are throwing all the prestige we earned down the toilet."
Argentina placed their hopes of winning the World Cup - somewhat unrealistically - on Messi's shoulders. But despite his best efforts, a dysfunctional team that was changed for all four of their matches could only make it to the round of 16, when they were knocked out by eventual winners France.
Many people blamed Messi for the underwhelming campaign, but Maradona has defended his prodigal son, suggesting that he should not feel obliged to give any more to the national team.
As someone who knows what it's like to carry an entire team's hopes on his shoulders, maybe on this occasion Maradona is worth listening to.