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Lionel Messi's Argentina retirement 'would be understandable' - Carlos Tevez

Former Argentina international Carlos Tevez would not be surprised if Lionel Messi decides to permanently retire from the national team.

Messi, Argentina's captain, is expected to take a break from international competition for the rest of the year and will miss the friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia next month.

"It would be understandable if Messi doesn't return to the national team," Tevez told TyC Sports. "When you give and then you are criticised, it becomes very difficult. I've been through that and at times you don't want to go [to the national team]."

Argentina football federation (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said last month that it is important for his organisation to have Messi play for the national team for financial reasons, but that he would give Messi time to decide if he will return.

Pressure led Messi to quit the national team, albeit briefly, in 2016 after Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa America final.

Messi's mother, Celia Cutticini, said during the World Cup that Messi has been deeply affected by criticism of his performances with Argentina, and former Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov also believes Messi has been unfairly treated by some fans and media.

Messi has been accused of selecting coaches and influencing which players do and do not make the squad, and Stoichkov, who is close friends with Messi, denied he makes those decisions for the national team.

"That's a lie that someone invented a while back," Stoichkov told TyC Sports. "If that were the case, I would be the coach of Argentina because I'm Lionel's friend. It's a complete lie.

"A lot of people don't know Messi. I know him very well and I can say that he never got involved in the construction of the national team. It's all lies."

Will Lionel Messi want to play in the 2022 World Cup for Argentina?
Lionel Messi is unlikely to feature for Argentina in friendlies in September as he contemplates his future.

Amid questions of Messi-dependence, Stoichkov believes Argentina need him to be successful.

"It's very easy -- if I take Messi out tomorrow, Argentina will not win a game in three years," Stoichkov said. "That is why Argentine football has to have a structure and I'm not convinced of what project [Tapia] wants to carry out. You have to know what model you want and if you want to depend on Messi or on 22 players."

The AFA has yet to select a full-time replacement for coach Jorge Sampaoli, who was sacked shortly after Argentina were knocked out of the World Cup by champions France in the round of 16.

It will not be Ricardo Gareca, who was considered the top candidate after leading Peru to their first World Cup appearance in 36 years. After signing a new contract with Peru last week, he said he was never contacted by the AFA.

"I never got a call, not even an informal one, to guide Argentina," Gareca told TyC Sports. "I took time because I wanted to listen and see what was there [before signing a new contract with Peru]. If Argentina called me up, things would have changed."

The AFA has turned to Lionel Scaloni and Pablo Aimar to guide Argentina for the friendlies, which will be played in the United States.

Scaloni recently said he had not spoken to Messi since his appointment on Aug. 3 but believes Messi will be treated "with the respect he deserves."


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