Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza says he believes Lionel Messi has the desire to return to international football.
Bauza hopes Messi will opt to re-join the national team for the forthcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Uruguay and Venezuela and met with the 29-year-old while in Barcelona to watch the Joan Gamper Trophy fixture.
Messi scored twice in a 3-2 win for Barcelona over Sampdoria at Camp Nou, but Bauza was unable to persuade him to reverse the decision he made to retire from the national team following June’s Copa America final defeat against Chile.
However, he remains confident that Messi will change his mind.
“I have no doubt that Leo has the desire to return, but we will wait,” Bauza told Mundo Deportivo.
Earlier, the Argentina coach described his meeting with Messi and Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano to Cadena SER Radio in Catalonia, saying: “We spoke about football, about the Argentina national team, about the game against Sampdoria. It was a good chat.
“I don’t know if Messi will come back to the Argentina team. We just spoke about football.”
Carlos Tevez and Paulo Dybala were left out of Argentina’s squad for the Copa America, but Bauza refused to rule anyone out of contention for the vital World Cup games.
“I will arrive in Argentina and I will prepare the list,” he said. “I want to speak again with [Messi] after that chat we already had and let’s see if he wants to be back.
“I don’t know if he will be on the list. I want to speak with all players about having them on the list.
“Let’s see with Dybala. Argentina has lots of good choices and we will wait until after I speak by phone to all players. Once we have all the players in Buenos Aires, we will build the team.”
Argentina legend Diego Maradona said he expected Messi to stick to his decision to retire and launched a tirade against what he sees as “weak leadership” at the Argentine Football Association.
Bauza responded, saying: “I respect Maradona’s words. I think it was a personal decision for Messi after a big frustration.
“Everyone suffered frustrations and he has to solve that situation on his own. If he wants to be back, we will wait for him.
“I am optimistic but I am not in his head.”