Wednesday, 24 Jul 2024

Why Lionel Messi Could’ve Played for Spain or Italy over Argentina

Lionel Messi, the legendary footballer, will be facing the Spanish national team as Argentina prepares for the upcoming World Cup in Russia. Argentina, the 2014 finalists, will be playing their second fixture of 2018 against Spain, who recently drew with Germany. Messi, hoping to secure a spot in the starting XI, was named in the squad for the match.

But have you ever wondered if Messi could have played for Spain or Italy instead of Argentina? Let’s delve into this intriguing topic.

Could Messi have played for Spain?

Lionel Messi, Argentina training

With Italy out of the picture early on, it was a straight shootout between Messi’s birth country, Argentina, and his country of residence, Spain. Messi qualified to represent Spain due to his Catalan great grandfather, who was born in Balaguer, Spain.

Following Messi’s move to Barcelona, Carles Rexach, the club’s director of football, lobbied for the Royal Spanish Football Federation to secure Messi’s future with Spain. However, Messi’s heartfelt wish was to represent Argentina. The Argentine Football Association, in response to his desire, arranged two under-20 friendlies in 2004 against Paraguay and Uruguay. Messi’s outstanding performance earned him a promotion to the U23s and eventually the senior side.

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In his book, “Messi, The Patriot,” Messi revealed, “When I was a kid, I expected to get a call from the AFA [Argentinian Football Association]. I was asked informally if I wanted to play for Spain, but I always said that I wanted to play for my national team because I love Argentina, and these are the only colors I want to wear.”

Messi’s former Barcelona teammate, Cesc Fabregas, supports his decision and believes that Spain missed out on a fantastic opportunity. Fabregas said, “It would have been phenomenal if Leo had played for Spain. We would have won more titles, but he always felt very Argentine, and I think it was the perfect decision for him to play for his country.”

Could Messi have played for Italy?

Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini, known as Lionel Messi, has Italian ancestry through both of his parents. In fact, he would have been eligible for an Italian passport because his great grandfather moved from Recanati, Italy, to Messi’s birthplace, Rosario, Argentina, in 1883.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that the Italian Football Federation made any attempts to convince a young Messi to join the Italian national team. With Argentina and Spain vying for his services, it was never a possibility for Messi to wear the royal blue of Italy.

Other Italian Argentine Footballers

Paulo Dybala Argentina

Interestingly, there have been several Italian Argentine footballers who have represented both Argentina and Italy throughout history. Mauro Camoranesi, born in Tandil, Argentina, was capped 55 times by Italy. Raimundo Orsi, a winner of five Serie A titles, also played for both countries. He represented Argentina from 1924-1928, switched allegiances to Italy for six years, won the World Cup with Italy, and even returned to play for Argentina in 1936.

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Other notable players who have played for both Argentina and Italy include Dani Osvaldo, Omar Sivori, Humberto Maschio, Antonio Angelillo, Luis Monti, and current Juventus star Paulo Dybala. Dybala, who could have also played for Italy and Poland, chose to commit to Argentina. He explained, “I feel 100 percent Argentine. When I had to choose, I had no doubts. I know that I’d have less competition for Italy or Poland, but I want to play for Argentina, and I never asked questions or thought about switching sides.”


Q: Could Lionel Messi have played for Spain or Italy?
A: Messi had the eligibility to represent both Spain and Italy, but he ultimately chose to play for his birth country, Argentina.

Q: What influenced Messi’s decision to play for Argentina?
A: Messi’s love for Argentina and his desire to represent his national team were the main factors behind his decision.

Q: How would Messi’s career have been different if he played for Spain?
A: Some believe that Spain could have won more titles with Messi in their team, but Messi’s loyalty to Argentina has shaped his historical career.


Lionel Messi’s decision to play for Argentina instead of Spain or Italy has had a profound impact on the football world. His choice has shaped his historical career and contributed to the success of the Argentine national team. While it’s interesting to speculate on what could have been, Messi’s unwavering loyalty to his birth country has solidified his legacy as one of the greatest players of all time.

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