Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has been accused of having a “different attitude” when representing Argentina, with Daniel Passarella not surprised by international struggles.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has offered plenty to the cause of his country down the years.
At 31 years of age he has 129 caps to his name and 65 goals for the Albiceleste.
He has helped Argentina to finals at the World Cup and Copa America, but is still waiting on a first piece of senior silverware.
That frustration saw him walk away from the fold at one stage, while a self-imposed break was taken in on the back of a disappointing showing from Jorge Sampaoli’s side at the 2018 World Cup.
Messi has since returned to the squad, but saw his first game back end in a humbling 3-1 defeat to Venezuela.
His presence failed to inspire those around him, while he was unable to replicate the heroics which have delivered another 39 goals at club level this season.
Former Argentina captain Passarella believes that is because Messi does not feel as comfortable or confident when representing his nation.
The 1978 World Cup winner said of an iconic countryman: “He’s a great player who can give a lot to any team.
“But when he plays for Barcelona he has a different attitude.
“He’s better there.
“Sometimes these things happen.
“You play well for a team and they love you, but you don’t feel at ease and something doesn’t fit.
“I don’t know what it is, but it should be something you feel inside.”
While Messi suffered defeat on his first outing for Argentina in 2019, he also picked up a knock.
A groin problem is now set to keep him out of a friendly clash with Morocco on Tuesday.
That is not the pre-Copa America preparation that head coach Lionel Scaloni was hoping for.
Messi will be able to slip seamlessly back into the side, but an underperforming team want positive minutes together.
After facing Morocco, their next competitive action will come in the Copa.
That tournament is heading to Brazil this summer, with Argentina placed in Group B alongside Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar.