Lionel Messi will continue playing for Argentina weeks after retirement decision

Lionel Messi scored for Argentina in a 4-0 semi-final win over USA at the Copa America
Image: Lionel Messi will continue playing for Argentina weeks after retirement decision

Lionel Messi will return to play for Argentina for "love" of his country, despite vowing to retire earlier this summer.

Messi said in June that he would not play for Argentina again after the team lost to Chile in the final of the Copa America.

But he said in a statement on Friday that he wished to continue playing for his country as he preferred "to help from within".

Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts
Image: Messi said in June that he would not play for Argentina again after the team lost to Chile in the final of the Copa America

"A lot of things went through my mind on the night of the final and I gave serious thought to quitting, but my love for my country and this shirt is too great," Messi added.

His earlier vow to quit had dismayed Argentina's demanding football fans, many of whom held street rallies and posted online messages begging him not to go.

Argentina's new coach Edgardo Bauza was set to announce later whether Messi would rejoin the squad for looming World Cup qualifiers.

Bauza met with Messi in Barcelona this week hoping to convince him to rejoin the squad, and was due to announce his list of players for games against Uruguay on September 1 and Venezuela on September 6

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Leicester's Andy King (C) challenges Barcelona's Lionel Messi during the 2016 International Champions Cup friendly football match between FC Barcelona and
Image: Messi in action in pre-season with Barcelona

Bauza took over the job from Gerardo Martino and was tasked with turning things around ahead of the 2018 World Cup, amid a management crisis at the Argentine Football Association.

"There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved in Argentine football, but I prefer to help from within and not to criticize from the outside," Messi's statement said.

"I send my thanks to all of those who want me to continue playing for Argentina. I hope that we'll be able to give them something to cheer about soon."

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