After 113 appearances and four final defeats, Lionel Messi called time on his Argentina career. We see how he compares to other compatriots.
After a 4-2 penalty shoot-out defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final, Lionel Messi announced he would not return to the pitch for Argentina.
The defeat proved too much for the Barcelona star, but a difficult relationship with the ailing Argentinian Football Association may well have contributed to his decision.
Messi has enjoyed an immensely decorated career with Barca, getting his hands on 28 trophies, including eight La Liga titles and a quartet of Champions League triumphs.
The 29-year-old could always return to the international fold, but, with the assistance of Opta data, we take a look at how his career measured up against fellow Argentines and contrasted against his Barca performances.
Falling at final hurdle
In his club career, Messi has taken part in 23 finals and won an astounding 19 of them. However, in all four showpieces he has participated in with Argentina – the Copa America finals of 2007, 2015 and 2016, and the 2014 World Cup – have ended in a bitter defeat. Including two-legged fixtures he has featured in 29 final matches for Barca, scoring 24 times and supplying seven assists. In contrast, he has never been involved in a goal while representing Argentina in a final – his team-mates all failing to register in all four.
Zanetti remains top centurion
Defeat to Chile represented Messi's 113th appearance in an Argentina shirt, with the forward one of just centurions in his country's history. He would likely have had to play beyond the 2018 World Cup in order to surpass all-time cap earner Javier Zanetti, however.
143 - Javier Zanetti
129 - Javier Mascherano
115 - Roberto Ayala
113 - Lionel Messi
106 - Diego Simeone
THE MOST PROLIFIC IN HISTORY
While he may have fallen short of surpassing Zanetti's appearance record, Messi will remain etched into Argentina's history having become their all-time record goalscorer at the Copa America Centenario. Messi's double in the semi-final against the United States sent him above Gabriel Batistuta in the leaderboard, but he was unable to add to that tally in the final.
55 - Lionel Messi
54 - Gabriel Batistuta
35 - Hernan Crespo
34 - Diego Maradona
33 - Sergio Aguero
NOT AS SUPER AS BATISTUTA
Batistuta took just 78 games to net his 54 international strikes, meaning his goals-per-game record is the best of any Argentina player. With Crespo's 35 goals taking just 64 outings, Messi has the third-best record of any Albiceleste player. Diego Maradona sits fifth, but he brought the country the 1986 World Cup.
0.69 - Gabriel Bastistuta
0.56 - Hernan Crespo
0.49 - Lionel Messi
0.45 - Sergio Aguero
0.37 - Diego Maradona
LACKING ON THE BIG STAGE
Of his 55 international goals, Messi scored just 13 of them in either the Copa America or World Cup, taking 36 appearances to reach that total. Batistuta, meanwhile, struck 23 times in 28 appearances at the major tournaments, leading his country to successive continental triumphs in 1991 and 1993. Norberto Mendez averaged one goal per game in his 17 Copa and World Cup appearances, while Jose Manuel Moreno notched as many times as Messi in 16 outings.