Lionel Messi has earned the right to quit international football

The reactions to Messi’s international retirement are extremely varied

Lionel Messi has earned the right to quit international football
Lionel Messi has earned the right to quit international football

The reactions to Messi’s international retirement are extremely varied

Leo Messi
Leo Messi

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The saying “You can’t please everybody every time” could not possibly ring truer with Barcelona legend Lionel Messi at the moment. After facing criticism from his country’s media, the most devastating ending to an otherwise successful Copa América run happened for the Argentinian forward. In an instance of heart-wrenching déjà vu, Argentina lost it all in penalties against Chile. Once again, Messi and his squad took home the prize of second best despite all of their efforts.

After the defeat, Messi, in an emotionally volatile state, announced his retirement from international football. He even went as far as to say that his shocking decision is “best for everyone."

The reactions to Messi’s announcement are extremely varied. Some are calling him a quitter. Others are begging him to stay. Many say that his decision is premature. Several assert that he will certainly change his mind. As usual, everyone on the planet feels entitled to have an opinion on Messi's every move.

Ironically, despite all of the recent derision Messi and the Argentinian squad have faced, very few have expressed approval or joy at Messi’s retirement. There is also a strong cry that Messi cannot solidify his spot in football history next to the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele without claiming major victories on the senior international level.

Derogatory statements made by the likes of Maradona seem to be the culmination of years of pent up animosity towards the fact that Messi has excelled so much on the personal and club level yet has failed to deliver that same standard of greatness with his national team.

Now that Messi has announced his retirement, Argentina fans are banding together to show their support for him. There is going to be a demonstration in Buenos Aires where people will rally to try to get Messi back. Maradona and the president of Argentina are some of the most famous voices in the movement.

All of these opinions mean one thing: No matter what Messi does, plenty of people seem to get easily upset along the way.

If Messi indeed retires from international football, the very same group of football fans who were so unhappy with him last week for not winning will be unhappy with him forever for deciding to quit the team -- while most probably overlooking their lack of support while defending La Albiceleste is in fact the reason for his departure.

If some consider Messi’s decision to leave a team that he believes he simply is not contributing to a defeatist move, people will probably call him indecisive for changing his mind and remaining with the team instead.

As for Messi’s decision being premature: Nobody will ever be ready to see a player as great as Messi hang up his boots. If he retired at forty-five years old, there would undoubtedly be those claiming that he still has another year left in him. It is quite possible that Messi could change his mind. After all, he is a human. Humans have the tendency to make rushed decisions in the midst of stressful situations. Regardless of what move Messi makes, he will have plenty of critics. 

In this rock and a hard place situation, where people will be mad no matter what he does, what should he do? In my opinion, he has earned the right to do whatever he wants. At twenty-nine years old, Messi has achieved more than most players will ever dream of. His trophy closet is bursting full of mementos of his unique talent. 

Let's be clear: If Messi never played another minute for Argentina, no one could possibly deny his talent. If Messi decided to continue playing for Argentina at some point in the future, he could write a memorable comeback story that would only cement his legacy.

As long as Messi makes a decision that he can live with, he has my full support. Being at peace with oneself is far more than the opinion any journalist, fan, commentator or coach may have from a comfortable distance.

By Marissa Blackman, columnist at Barcablog.