Lionel Messi could retire from Argentina (again) if his national side puts in a poor World Cup showing.
Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi has admitted that he could retire from the international stage for a second time if his country gives a poor account of themselves at next year's World Cup tournament in Russia.
The forward famously quit the national side after they were trumped at the Copa America final by Chile in 2016, only to go back on his decision two months later.
He has said, though, that he might not remain part of the squad if the 2014 World Cup finalists don't perform up to standard.
"If we do badly at the World Cup, we all have to disappear from the national team," Messi said to TyC Sports. "It'll be difficult for some to stay on."
La Albiceleste have been placed in Group D, along with Nigeria, Iceland and Croatia, a relatively manageable group.
Yet they're fresh off a loss to Nigeria, while Iceland should be brimming with confidence from the Euro 16 exploits that saw them knock England out. Croatia, meanwhile, are no easy task either.
Messi's compatriot and Barca teammate Javier Mascherano has also quit international football. And it appears that his Camp Nou days are numbered as well, given his drop in playing time under Ernesto Valverde.
"Mascherano? I'm not going to tell you what he told me, but I'll understand if he leaves, he wants to play more," Messi said after questions relating to the 33-year-old's future.
"I understand Masche. The best thing is to play and enjoy yourself, and he doesn't think he'll get minutes here. Being on the bench is horrible. It looks easier from the outside."