Argentina coach ‘optimistic’ on Messi comeback


Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentina’s new coach Edgardo Bauza said Tuesday he is “optimistic” he can convince Lionel Messi to come out of early international retirement.

Bauza’s number one task in his new job is to convince the 29-year-old Barcelona star and five-time World Player of the Year to reconsider his abrupt decision to quit the national team.

“I’m optimistic about Messi,” Bauza told Fox Sports, a day after being appointed.

“I hope that the chat I’d like to have with him will help convince him to stay with the team. I want to explain my idea to Messi. His position on the pitch is the least of my worries.”

Bauza, 58, was speaking from Brazil, where he previously coached Sao Paulo. He joins Argentina fresh from coaching the club to the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores.

Bauza has won two Copa Libertadores — one in 2014 with San Lorenzo, the other in 2008 with Ecuadoran side LDU Quito.

He takes over an Argentina outfit smarting from Messi’s abrupt retirement announcement, the departure of coach Gerardo Martino and a series of disappointing losses in big tournaments — most recently in the Copa America final, the catalyst for Messi’s exit.

Messi left the pitch in tears after that loss to Chile, saying: “For me, the national team is over.”

Bauza said he has not been in touch with Messi yet, but plans to travel to Barcelona to meet with him.

“I don’t have to convince him of anything. The idea is just to chat about football,” he added.

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