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Don't cry for Messi or Argentina

Saturday 7th October 2017
"Quæ Facere Difficile Est Via" should be the AFA's official motto. Doing things the hard way seems to be Argentina and Lionel Messi's new default method.

Albiceleste fans must miss the days when Diego Maradona was snorting cocaine, evading the Italian taxman, and cozying up to Latin American dictators. Ah, good times. It all seems a small price to pay for winning. Now, despite Argentina having an, if not as talented, then certainly more dedicated 'greatest player ever', everything is such a trial.

Pardon the pun, Leo. I understand you and your father just experienced a very difficult one of those in the Spanish courts. Credit where credit's due. You and your da at least stood before the judge, rather than fleeing the country and not coming back for more than twenty years, until the Agencia Tributaria tricked you into thinking you'd been cleared so they could put the €4.7 million bill right in your palm.
Of course, that was more cost effective given your unpaid sum was only slightly more than a tenth what the Agenzia delle Entrate sprang on El Pibe, including late fees and interest, after he finally returned to Italy in 2013. Plus, you still plan on playing, and earning, for a few more years.

I mean, you weren't about to have a tantrum and take your ball home like you did with the Albiceleste after they lost a second consecutive Copa Amerca to Chile, were you? As the AFA demonstrated when they let Tata Martino walk in the build-up to that second loss, there just isn't any money in Argentine football these days.

It hasn't ended there for you, let alone Argentina, has it my extremely unfulfilled friend?

Throughout your career, people have put you down for being unable to deliver on the international stage the way Maradona did. Assuming you and the lads can suck it up in Quito's rarefied air to beat the Amarillos and keep your World Cup hopes alive, Russia will likely be your last tournament, won't it? You'll be 31 when it gets underway. At 35, will you fancy playing in Qatar's desert heat?
As it stands, El Pibe still has a three-goal edge in the big dance. He has played half-again your 14 matches to get his eight goals. Your scoring rates are almost identical. But Gabriel Batistuta only needed a dozen to get his ten. In fact, you're only sixth on the Argentine World Cup goalscoring list. Guillermo Stabile and Mario Kempes both have more than you. You're level with Gonzalo Higuain--Gonzalo Higuain!!--but he pips you with three fewer appearances.

The argument for your greatness has always been your club play. Yet, things are getting tougher at the Nou Camp aren't they? You almost let it slip against Paris Saint-Germain, last season, in the Champions League. The refs helped Barca out in the second leg, though they couldn't do anything for you against Juve. You can bet they'll be in your corner Tuesday. Too much bank at stake for FIFA if you're not on Putin's guest list.

Now that Neymar's joined PSG, you're having a bit of a renaissance, eh? The pressure of another GOAT being tethered in the same pasture is lifted. But the cheeky Brazilian booked his ticket to Moscow months ago. You might not even go.
This is your last chance to cement your legacy, amigo. If you can't, Andrew Lloyd Webber's lyrics won't need editing at all to apply to you.

And as for fortune, and as for fame

I never invited them in

Though it seemed to the world they were all I desired

They are illusions, they're not the solutions they promised to be

The answer was here all the time

I love you, and hope you love me

Don't cry for me, Argentina.
Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin authored the short story collection strange bOUnce. He appeared in several other blogs which no longer exist. Old, he likes to bring out defunct. If outdated sport and pop-cultural references intrude on his meanderings for It's Round and It's White, don't be alarmed. He's harmless.

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