Messi tops Bauza’s agenda as Argentina coach is formally unveiled
BUENOS AIRES – New Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza believes a softy, softly approach is the way to try to bring talisman Lionel Messi back into the national team.
Bauza, officially unveiled as Gerardo Martino’s successor at Argentine FA headquarters on Friday, said he would seek to speak with retired captain Messi in Barcelona next week.
“My sole intention is to see if I can talk about football with Messi… and from that chat will come the possibility of him being called up to play Argentina’s next games,” Bauza told a news conference.
Less than a month after Bauza took charge, Argentina face 2018 World Cup qualifiers at home to Uruguay and away to Venezuela in the first week of September.
“I want to tell him my idea and for him to tell me how things are with him and then we’ll see what comes out of it,” Bauza said.
Messi quit the team after his fourth major final defeat with Argentina, and third as their captain, at the Copa America in the United States in June.
There is a widespread belief that the 29-year-old will revise a decision he took in the heat of the moment and look to try and take part in a fourth World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Bauza, a lanky former central defender who has won the Copa Libertadores twice as a coach, said he understood Messi’s reaction to a second successive Copa America final defeat on penalties against Chile.
“I have felt frustrated for losing a match or a final and understand that statement (of quitting) when you are overwhelmed with frustration, but I know it can be reversed.” said Bauza, who is known as ‘Paton’ (big foot).
Argentina are third in the 10-nation South American group with 11 points from six matches, two points behind leading pair Uruguay and Ecuador.
The top four after 18 matches qualify for the finals in Russia, while the fifth-placed team goes into an intercontinental playoff for one more berth. –REUTERS