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Argentina coach in Barcelona on Messi mission

Argentina's new coach Edgardo Bauza arrives in Barcelona on Tuesday on a mission to convince Lionel Messi to reverse his early international retirement and come back to the national team.
Barcelona's Argentinian striker Lionel Messi gestures during the pre-season International Champions Cup football match between Spanish champions, Barcelona and Liverpool at Wembley stadium in London on August 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON

Barcelona’s Argentinian striker Lionel Messi gestures during the pre-season International Champions Cup football match between Spanish champions, Barcelona and Liverpool at Wembley stadium in London on August 6, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Ian KINGTON

Argentina’s new coach Edgardo Bauza arrives in Barcelona on Tuesday on a mission to convince Lionel Messi to reverse his early international retirement and come back to the national team.

Bauza, who started the job on August 1, left Buenos Aires on Monday night on a Barcelona-bound flight.

The 58-year-old coach says his number one job is convincing the five-time World Player of the Year to return to a national team where he has endured a string of disappointing losses in big tournaments.

Messi, 29, abruptly announced his international retirement on June 26, after Argentina lost the Copa America final to Chile.

The Barcelona star, who missed a crucial penalty, left the pitch in tears after the match, saying: “For me, the national team is over.”

But Bauza, who formerly coached Brazilian club Sao Paulo, has said he is optimistic he can get him to change his mind.

“I hope that the chat I’d like to have with him will help convince him to stay with the team,” he told Fox Sports a day after landing the job, saying he had only ever imagined coaching the team with Messi part of it.

Bauza, who took over from Gerardo Martino, is due to announce his squad on Friday for Argentina’s next qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.

They play Uruguay on September 1 and Venezuela on September 6.