Messi will make Argentina return, says Maradona

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The La Albiceleste legend believes the Barcelona superstar will eventually make an international return

Lionel Messi will return to the Argentina fold at some stage, according to Diego Maradona.

Messi, 31, last played for his nation at the World Cup in Russia and will miss their upcoming friendlies against Mexico.

La Albiceleste fared poorly at the showpiece event, losing 3-0 to Croatia and drawing with Iceland in the group stages, before being knocked out by eventual winners France in the round of 16.

Messi missed a penalty in the draw against Iceland but scored in his country's only win of the tournament against Nigeria.

And Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, believes the Barcelona superstar will return to the international scene.

Asked by Marca if Messi will feature in the future for Argentina, Maradona said: "I think so.

"We will see, because if not then we are in trouble."

Maradona also denied he had criticised Messi earlier this year when it was said that he questioned the attacker's leadership.

The 58-year-old insisted he would never chastise his compatriot in such a way publicly.

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"Leo is a friend of mine and I never talk badly about a friend in public. I would say it to the face, and not through an interview," Maradona said.

"About Leo, all I would say is that he is a phenomenon and nothing more. There are players that go to the bathroom 20 times [before a match] but I never referred to Messi."

The absence of international duties may help Messi focus on his club commitments, as his Barcelona side look to bounce back from their shock 4-3 home defeat against Real Betis, despite two goals from the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, facing a tough trip away against Atletico Madrid

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