A reader writes (thanks, Mark!) Q: Also, what’s your take on Messi’s injury spate? Not regaining fitness after the off-season? Or too much work-rate and crazy travel over too many competitions for both club and country? Hamstrings are tough, and when they say 6-8 weeks, that’s 6-8 weeks before he’s 80 percent, and if he pushes it too quickly, that’s three more months on the DL. If I were the Argentine coach, I would be really worried about next summer.
Some players trade on acceleration more than others. I didn’t because I had none. I have noticed that those who do often have no plan “B” when that burst is gone. I’m not saying Messi has no other skill but it is what sets him apart.
The natural progression: star on your national team, get noticed, sign a mega-contract, go through the tug-o-war between club and country. “Retire” from your national team because your club is pressuring you and it won’t put any more money in your pocket, or you don’t need the money.
Like I’ve said before, I think it’s ridiculous. Clubs use national team games as shop windows, then discourage the players from continuing. Like a guy who marries a stripper and then wants her get off the pole.