Carlos Tevez hopes Lionel Messi does not retire from international football after his latest World Cup disappointment, but insists that Argentina need to build a project that makes the Barcelona star feel “comfortable”.
Messi could not prevent Argentina being eliminated by eventual World Cup winners France at the round of 16 stage in Russia, the culmination of a chaotic and at times shambolic campaign that featured a humiliating 3-0 loss to Croatia as well as a reported player revolt against coach Jorge Sampaoli and a physical altercation between Javier Mascherano and Cristian Pavon.
Sampaoli departed in the wake of Argentina’s exit from and many fear that Messi will also bow out, having already returned once after retiring from international football following the Copa America Centenario in 2016.
Tevez is adamant that Argentina need Messi as much as ever, but called on his country to give the five-time Ballon d’Or winner something worth sticking around for.
“I think Leo has to think about himself,” Tevez told ESPN. “He has to think that, if there is not a project that makes him happy and in which he feels comfortable, it is very difficult to take the responsibility of leading Argentina to become champions by himself.
“We are wasting a lot of time not having him happy and not being able to give him a hand to achieve that target. I think we are wrong in not being able to help him feel comfortable.
“As a player and as an Argentine I tell him that we need him, that he tries to rest, that he keeps a cool head and that we need him. We need him because he is the soul of Argentina and, as long as he continues playing football, it has to be that way because he is Argentina's biggest idol and he has to take that responsibility.
“Now [I tell him] to rest, keep a cool head and try to be well, then we need him to take charge and on the pitch.”
Highly-regarded Peru coach Ricardo Gareca has been touted as Sampaoli’s successor with Argentina ahead of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, which is due to begin next year.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies