Truly great footballers are defined as much by what they have won as what they can do with a football. The legends of world football must add significant silverware to their CV, not just on the domestic stage but also on the international scene. Pele, Maradona and even Ronaldo have an international success or two added to impressive collections of domestic honours.
Argentina have qualified for the semi-finals of 2019 Copa America and will be facing Brazil on July 2nd.
He will get another chance when the Copa America heads to Argentina next year, but that won’t mean he’ll be content with more heartbreak this summer.
Messi has suffered more than most when it comes to international heartbreak. He’s been tantalisingly close to major honours, losing out in the World Cup Final of 2014, then in successive years in the Copa America in 2015 and 2016.
Sergio Aguero has already announced that he intends to win the tournament, not for himself or his country, but so 32-year-old Messi finally has international honours to his name, elevating him to ‘world great’ status.
After losing their opening game against Colombia, then drawing with Paraguay, they simply had to improve. Messi may not have shone, but he played a role as they defeated Qatar 2-0 to set up a quarter final place and then team defeated Venezuela comfortably to reach semis.
This could be the last chance Messi has of lifting a major trophy. The next World Cup is three years away, by which time he’ll be 35. Messi has already told Fox Sports that he’s unsure as to whether he’ll be there in 2022.
That’s not to say Messi is getting any worse with age, but there is still a huge question mark over his ability to carry an often under-achieving Argentine side through a major competition, even as he nears the end of his career. His rival on the world stage, Cristiano Ronaldo, proved he could influence his nation when they lifted the European Championship in 2016, and more recently the UEFA Nations League.
Messi’s domestic record speaks for itself, staying his entire at Barcelona. An ‘El Clasico Guide’ by coral discussed how Messi really became a global star when he bagged a hat trick in a game against Madrid, the final goal a wonderful solo effort announcing him on the world stage.
He’s never looked back for the Catalan giants since then, winning 10 La Liga titles as well as four Champions League titles. In total he lifted 34 trophies with Barcelona, cementing him as one of the world’s greats.
However, to become an all-time great, he really needs to lift something in the blue and white of Argentina. Their start to this year’s competition doesn’t suggest he’s going to be successful this season, but it could be his very last chance.
If he fails to get at least a Copa America, then upon retirement the question will always be asked if he really was as good as his Barcelona record suggests or, when he needed to be a leader and a stand out performer, he wasn’t quite at the same level as Ronaldo.