New Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza was in the Camp Nou on Wednesday to watch Lionel Messi dazzle the crowd in a pre-season friendly against Sampdoria and it will have served as a stark reminder that La Albiceleste need their talisman back from retirement.
On Thursday, the 58-year-old met with Messi and teammate Javier Mascherano at the Barcelona training complex in an effort to coax the five-time Ballon d’Or winner out of retirement and explain his vision for the future of the national team.
Speaking ahead of the meeting after arriving in Barcelona for the much-publicised talks, Bauza told reporters, “I’m feeling good as I’m here to speak about football, a language we know well.”
“This chat will be about a decision, I’m not here to convince Messi, I’m here to chat about football. I want him to tell me about the frustration which lead him to say what he did.”
Despite playing down talks of persuading Messi out of retirement, El Patón was quoted by Spanish television station Antena 3 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday as saying, “The conversation we will have is to try and reverse the situation. I understand that frustration he has better than anyone.”
Those talks took place on Thursday and although there has been no word from Messi or Mascherano, it is understood that they spoke for around one hour with the new coach.
Bauza didn’t disclose the details of the conversation but did tell reporters, “We didn’t speak about his return. We just had a little talk about football…I’ll be calling him in a few days.”
Before adding, “Let’s see if this chat has helped.”
It isn’t clear whether Bauza will be successful in his attempt and certainly if Messi remains in retirement it will be an early blow to the recently appointed coach’s tenure.
Bauza must name his first squad on August 16th ahead of the World Cup qualifying double header against Uruguay and Venezuela in the first week of September.
Messi returning would be a timely boost in what has been a difficult time for Argentine football but Bauza is said to be preparing alternatives in the event that these latest talks fail.
Working for the AFA in the current circumstances cannot be easy but Bauza stated, “I am naturally an optimist because in my life I am like that, but it’s a personal decision and I don’t want to interfere.”