Home News As Messi seeks another trophy, football world fears for future without him

As Messi seeks another trophy, football world fears for future without him


On Thursday, the Argentina national football team will kick off the 2024 Copa America, South America’s biggest soccer tournament, with a match against Canada in Atlanta. Fans around the world, especially in Argentina, have been eagerly awaiting this day since their beloved team was led by perhaps the greatest soccer player of all time. Win the 2022 World Cup.

However, as Argentina national team captain and superstar Lionel Messi stepped onto the Mercedes-Benz Stadium alongside his teammates as the favorites to retain their 2021 Copa America title, a wave of sadness followed.

This will be the last time Messi will attend the explain Two years ago, he last played in the World Cup, wearing the blue and white of Argentina at a major tournament? Would this be the last time one of the world’s most famous figures, a man who brought joy to so many during a turbulent time for his homeland, represented his football-obsessed nation?

“He was already saying goodbye, he had been giving interviews and seemed to be preparing for us,” said Sergio Colque, a 40-year-old electrician, who was waiting to play in an amateur soccer match last weekend in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital.

Jonathan Icikson, 27, ambulance dispatcher, Last week, he and his friends watched Argentina’s final pre-Copa America friendly against Guatemala outside a bar. “Obviously, there are no words to describe the sadness,” he said, “but not all good things end well. All good things must end at some point.”

This Copa America will undoubtedly be the end for this group of Argentine players.

Angel Di Maria, 36, is a star in his own right and has been Messi’s teammate for 16 years. explain He will retire from the national team at the end of the three-week tournament. Other veterans, such as 36-year-old Nicolas Otamendi, have not yet specified how long they will continue to play, but age is catching up with Argentina’s golden generation.

“A little bit worried that it would all be over,” Messi said of his time at the club Recent TV interviews.

Argentina beat France in the Qatar World Cup final, winning the country’s first title since 1986. Another Argentine superstar Diego Maradonaone of the greatest players of all time, led that team to victory.

But in his four previous attempts, The ups and downs of his relationship with the countryMessi has failed to live up to the expectations that were placed on Maradona’s successor. This is the only achievement that has eluded Messi, who won the Ballon d’Or as the world’s best player a record eight times.

Yet when Messi finally did it, Argentina celebrated in a way that had never been seen before. 5 million people — About 10% of the country’s population — Buenos Aires Street The National Team Parade is one of the biggest events in Argentine history.

“We went through the World Cup in a difficult moment,” said Lorena Rovere, 45, a pharmacist in Buenos Aires. “Then we came back to reality.”

Argentina’s economy is in trouble Years of economic recession Inflation remains among the highest in the world, at about 276% Per year.

President Javier Milei, a right-wing liberal, vowed in December to fix Argentina’s fiscal problems, warning that the situation would get worse before it got better as he implemented a tough austerity program.Chainsaw” of public spending and blamed it for the country’s economic ills.

Unemployment has risen and poverty rates have soared this year, with more and more Argentines finding it hard to make ends meet.

The Senate this month approved a bill that Miley said would make Argentina more attractive to investors by paving the way for privatizations and rolling back labor protections, among other measures. The bill sparked protests and the detention of more than 30 people.

For many Argentines, watching Messi and his teammates sprint around the soccer field, perhaps in pursuit of a nostalgic final together, would provide a much-welcome break, albeit a brief one.

“This is not going to solve the deeper problems in our country,” said Gabriel del Rio, 45, a youth soccer coach and city traffic light inspector in Buenos Aires. He said his 27-year-old son recently began applying for an Italian passport, and he thought that, with limited opportunities in Argentina, his 16-year-old daughter might also choose to live abroad.

But Del Rio said: “Football does bring people temporary joy. The players understand that; they understand it at the World Cup and now at the Copa America. Football is about providing a temporary distraction and allowing people to have fun in the midst of constant challenges.”

Manuel Peñalba, 21, a university student in Buenos Aires who works as a freelance video editor, said Argentina “deserved” to win the World Cup, given the problems it faced.

He said he plans to watch all of Argentina’s Copa America games with friends. They will have to rely on television broadcasts because all games in the tournament, run by South American football confederation CONMEBOL, will be held in the United States for only the second time in its 108-year history. Reaching an Agreement Working with the governing Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football (Concacaf).

In addition to the United States and Canada, the non-South American invited teams for this year’s Copa America include Mexico, Panama, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

Exceed Obvious economic benefits In addition to being held in the United States, the Copa America serves as a warm-up for the 2026 World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Messi has recently been hesitant about whether to play in the next World Cup, when he will be 39, an age he admits makes it difficult for him to compete at that level.

In a recent interview with ESPN Argentina, Messi said he thinks his current club, Inter Miami, will be his last. (Last year, he unexpectedly announced sign and Inter Miami of the MLSIt’s a relatively new league in North America, after two decades of playing in Europe’s more talented leagues, including those of FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.)

But winning the World Cup has breathed new life into Messi, who had briefly retired from international football after winning the 2014 World Cup final against Germany and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals against Chile. He said He wanted to stay here now more than ever.

“I know time is running out,” he told ESPN recent.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni Tell “We Argentines are too depressed,” Argentine television reported this month.

“While he was still playing, we were already thinking about the day he would leave,” he added. “Let’s just enjoy his game and see tomorrow.”

Alejandro Wall is an Argentinian sports journalist who has written seven books on football, including one Last year, speaking of Messi, he said it was hard to imagine a national team without him.

But he added that the team had entered a “period of transition” with Di Maria retiring, Messi’s playing time reduced and talented young players emerging.

“To a large extent, Messi will test himself in this America’s Cup,” Wall said, “see how he performs and see what happens next.”

Many fans said they hope Mr. Messi can stick around a little longer, even if it’s just as a player with fewer appearances, to play in the next World Cup. It’s hard to say goodbye. He can still bring more smiles to his hometown.

“The team knows how to play without Messi,” Peñalba said. “It’s the end of an era. It’s painful, but it’s coming.”

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