Diego Maradona has said Lionel Messi should quit the Argentina team and send everyone “to hell”, ESPN reports.
Messi, who has scored 65 goals in 128 appearances since making his debut with Argentina in August 2005, has taken an indefinite leave of absence from international football since captaining Argentina to the round of 16 of the World Cup in Russia.
Asked what he would tell Messi, Maradona told Clarin newspaper, “Not to come (to the national team) again.”
When asked whether he meant to retire from the national team, Maradona said, “Yes, because if the under-15 side loses, it’s Messi’s fault. He is always at fault. I would tell him, “Don’t come (to the national team) anymore.”
Messi, who was under immense pressure to win his first major trophy with Argentina at the World Cup, has not publicly addressed his future.
Despite competing in four World Cups and four Copa Americas, the Barcelona forward has not won a major trophy for his country, and Argentina FA president Claudio Tapia has said he faced too much pressure heading into the World Cup earlier this year.
Maradona, who coached Messi and Argentina from 2008 to 2010, said he would have liked for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to have broken his silence.
“I would have liked for him to have sent everyone to hell,” Maradona said. “Because it’s not his fault not to be a world champion… Today the national team doesn’t awaken absolutely anything.
“Not even to the people. We have lost that. Passion. We are throwing all of the prestige that we won in the toilet.”
Legendary Argentina and Boca Juniors playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme, however, said he thinks Messi should return to the Argentina squad.
“I have no doubt that Messi will play again for the national team,” Riquelme told Fox Sports Argentina. “I talk to him a lot, not about the National Team, but about other things. Looking at it from the outside, I think he will come back. He loves playing for Argentina.”
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