Messi's retirement from Argentina could hurt his legacy

NEW YORK: Lionel Messi's surprising decision to stop playing for Argentina could damage his legacy with the national team and fans back home.

If Messi sticks to his announcement, made in the heat of the moment shortly after Argentina's penalty shootout loss to Chile in Sunday's Copa America final, Argentina will be left dwelling on the fact that it was not able to win any significant title despite having one of the best players of all time.

Many fans back home didn't like the fact that he thrived in his adopted country Spain but failed to consistently produce brilliant performances with the national team.

He is Argentina's career leading scorer with 55 goals in 113 international appearances.

Argentina's next competitive match is a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in September, but now it's uncertain what kind of team it will have then, as other players from Messi's generation may also decide to leave the national team.

Messi, meanwhile, is expected to return to preseason with Barcelona in Spain, where it should be another successful season for him at the club level.