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Argentina’s New Coach Planning Messi Talks


LionelNew Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza says one of his first tasks will be to speak to Lionel Messi, who plans to retire from international duty, but said the conversation would not be “about convincing him of anything.”

Former Sao Paulo manager Bauza was hired by the Argentina Football Federation (AFA) on Monday to replace Gerardo Martino, who stepped down after the team’s penalty shootout defeat to Chile in this summer’s Copa America Centenario final, and now immediately prepares for 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela in early September.

The search for Martino’s successor was complicated by ongoing institutional chaos in Argentine football, and allegations of misappropriation of AFA funds, with the national government and FIFA stepping in to appoint a Comision Regularizadora (Normalising Commission) to address the situation.

Such chaos also apparently played a role in Messi’s shock decision to retire from international football following the Copa America final loss, which was Argentina’s third successive defeat in a major tournament final. It had also been suggested that the Barcelona star might be consulted for his views on the new national coach, given the importance of persuading him to return to the Albiceleste fold.

Speaking to FOX Sports’ “El Paton,” Bauza said: “We have had no contact with Messi, or none of his family.

“The idea is that once I have met with the Normalising Commission, I will make a trip to have a chat. It is not about convincing him of anything, just to chat about football. Those of us who were players know how frustrating it is to lose a final. I will let him know my way of working. Not just him, but other senior players too.

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“There is not much time. If Messi knows anything clearly, it is what he must do on the pitch, and what decisions he should take. Between the two of us we could see how he could help the national team, and if he can continue with all this commitment that I have seen from outside.”

Messi was not the only Argentina player reportedly considering his international future following the summer, with senior teammates including Barca colleague Javier Mascherano and Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero also said to be unhappy with how the AFA was running the team.

Asked what position he saw Messi playing in his Argentina side, Bauza said: “His position on the pitch is what concerns me the least.

“He has played many positions and in all of them done well, has been a match winner. We will see what is the best place to use him. The idea is to travel and speak also to four or five senior players. There is not much time, the games are coming up.”