Lionel Messi on Monday shocked the footballing world as the Argentine announced his retirement from international duty after missing a penalty in a shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years.
He will surely go down as one of the finest players in history but it can't be denied that three final defeats in three years will leave a scar on his legacy. The loss on Monday also means Argentina's 23-year wait for a major honour goes on and people will surely question the timing of Messi's retirement keeping his age in mind.
"It's not meant for me. For me the national team is over. I've done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion," the 29-year-old said after Monday's defeat in the Copa America.
Not in his 30s yet, Messi could have easily went on to play another World Cup and Copa America, but he chose otherwise - a decision laden with emotion as Messi broke down after Argentina's defeat.
With Barcelona, Messi has won eight La Liga and four Champions League titles but when you compare that record with the national team, his only major international honour is the 2008 Olympic gold. He lost the World Cup 2014 final along with the Copa America final.
Talking about Monday's final, had Messi scored from the penalty spot and Argentina won, he may have put an end to the debate where the legend Diego Maradona always scores over him.
Ardent Messi fans will argue that he does not need a World cup or any other international honour to confirm his status as the greatest footballer but World Cup and international tournaments are the stage where a good player can turn into a great and the greats into legends.
People tend to call Messi a footballing God because of whatever he has done for Barcelona. No doubt he is a born magician and will remain the best of this era ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo but when you compare him to Diego Maradona, then we are taking this debate to an altogether another level.
Maradona became football's ultimate God when he helped Argentina win the World Cup almost single handedly. He carried a team of average players to World Cup glory in 1986 and that was the moment when Diego became one the greatest player to grace this sport although Pele might have something to say about that.
Messi has been a genius for Barcelona and has won trophies consistently but that comes down to the the quality of the team Barca have produced over the years. He has played with the likes of Ronaldinho, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Luis Suarez and Neymar; and these players have helped him take his legacy forward but when you compare it to Argentina, he has fallen short despite having played alongside the likes of Higuain, Aguero, Mascherano, Tevez and others.
At the same time, Maradona was one man who never wanted world class players around him to show his quality. He was a single-man army when you talk about club football and international football.
Messi's greatness can't be questioned but the lack of major international honours does tarnish his legacy.