Argentine FA hope for Messi international U-turn


Buenos Aires (AFP) – The acting head of Argentina’s FA, Armando Perez, will travel to Spain to try and convince star striker Lionel Messi to reconsider his international retirement, according to reports in Argentina on Thursday.

“I spoke with Leo’s father, we have agreed to meet next week,” said Perez, in quotes published by Argentine sports daily Ole.

“The most important thing is to see if Messi will take part in (qualifying) matches” for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, added Perez, the head of a FIFA-appointed normalisation committee currently in charge of the AFA.

Messi, the five-time world player of the year, announced his shock retirement after Argentina lost the Copa America Centenario final to defending champions Chile on penalties last month.

Perez is also due to meet Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli, the man who led Chile past Argentina to their maiden Copa America title a year ago, with the aim of recruiting him as the new national team coach.

Sampaoli, 56, joined Europa League champions Sevilla last month after replacing Unai Emery and the club have ruled out the Argentine’s departure or any job-sharing arrangement.

“I spoke with Sampaoli (on Wednesday), we will see. There is work to do. We need to meet,” Perez told several radio stations, adding he was “not going to leave defeated”.  

Should Perez be knocked back in his attempts to tie down Sampaoli, the AFA could turn their attentions to former Paraguay boss Ramon Diaz or ex-Boca Juniors coach Carlos Bianchi, although Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone remains the most popular choice.

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