Lionel Messi has told Argentina he will not play for them again this year, leading officials to fear he will retire from international football.
The Barcelona superstar, 31, has told caretaker boss Lionel Scaloni he will not play in friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia in the USA later this year.
The move has cast doubt over his availability for the 2019 Copa America – Argentina’s next set of competitive games.
Messi has not played for Argentina since their thrilling 4-3 defeat at the hands of France in the last-16 of the World Cup.
But the Barca ace has been tight-lipped regarding his future ever since, even with Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia bringing down the curtain on their international careers.
Messi has already retired from international duty once – calling time on his career in June 2016.
Two years ago, after defeat in the Copa America final to Chile – with the the man himself missing in the penalty shootout – Messi announced he was done.
At the time, he said: “For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion.”
However, he quickly made a U-turn and shone at the World Cup – albeit briefly – as Argentina crashed out early in Russia.
Messi, now Barcelona’s most-decorated player of all-time, may opt to end his career with the South American nation to prolong his club career.