BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, Jul 3 – Lionel Messi vowed to extend his international career after yet another bid to win a major title with Argentina ended in failure at the Copa America on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Barcelona star, who infamously quit international football after Argentina’s defeat in the 2016 Copa America Centenario final, said he had no plans to hang up his boots after a 2-0 semi-final loss to Brazil.
“If I can still help in any way, I will continue to do so. I feel really good in this group,” said the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“This is a good, talented generation who showed that they love the national team,” he added.
“They have a future and great foundations, they just need to be given time.”
Messi will get another chance to break his tournament duck next year when the Copa America takes place in Argentina and Colombia, with the 2022 World Cup looming further on the horizon.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni meanwhile insisted his new-look squad had a bright future despite the defeat.
“Without a doubt, today we showed that this group of players feel the jersey like no-one else,” he said.
“We showed an image for the future of this squad and these players and the great path they are on.
“To play in this stadium, in these conditions and to be superior to our opponents.
“It doesn’t matter because they’re going to the final but if we’re aware of what we did today then there’s only positives.”
He said the defeat was “unfair” claiming that “no other team has created as many goalscoring chances against Brazil as we did.”
Messi’s best chance came on 57 minutes when he volleyed against the post. Scaloni said the veteran was Argentina’s “standard-bearer.”
“Brazil were continuously trying to stop passes from reaching him and we kept looking for ways to get him the ball,” Scaloni said.
“It was thrilling to see him play. It didn’t work out today but he’ll have his rematch and the whole squad will have their rematch.”
Scaloni was unhappy with some of Ecuadoran referee Roddy Zambrano’s decisions, not least the fact that Argentina picked up six bookings to Brazil’s two.
“I didn’t like the referee, I don’t usually make those comments,” he said.
“I don’t think he was qualified for a match of this level.”
He added: “If a midfielder player is on a yellow card this changes things. There were a lot of small details where the match started to lose its balance because of those decisions.”