I regret saying Messi should quit Argentina, says Gerardo Martino

Argentina head coach Gerardo Martino has admitted he regrets saying that captain Lionel Messi should have quit the national team and is now hoping the Barcelona attacker will turn up for the country’s next two friendlies.

Messi has led the Albiceleste to the final of their last two major tournaments – but they were beaten on both occasions, losing 1-0 to Germany at World Cup 2014 before being defeated on penalties at this year’s Copa America.

The four-time Ballon d’Or winner’s value to the national team was called into question after the heartbreaking final defeat Chile and it was reported that the upset 28-year-old was considering turning his back on his country.

Martino commented at the time: “Talk of him considering retiring from the national team is frustrating but understandable: if I were Messi, I would have stopped playing for Argentina a long time ago.”

However, the former Barca boss included Messi in his squad for next month’s friendlies against Bolivia and Mexico and is now desperately hoping his skipper answers the call.

“I should not have said that Messi should quit the national team,” Martino told TyC Sports.

“I did not speak with Messi before this call-up. I hope he comes.”

Argentina take on Bolivia on September 4 before meeting Mexico four days later.