When he thinks about the current state of things, Lionel Messi is deeply unhappy. He feels frustration, resentment and anger, and those emotions are pushing him to the brink of despair. Having dedicated a huge part of his professional life to his country, he feels that his efforts have gone unrewarded. He's seen other nations benefit at the expense of his own. Now, he wants to take back control.
He wants to be respected, and restored to his former glory. He wants to have sovereignty over his own decisions, and to strike out courageously on his own. He wants to be free to negotiate his own trade deals with China and the USA, and not be held back by those shit-munching, banana-straightening bureaucrats in Brussels.
Wait, no, that last parallel doesn't work. Still, there's a reason that Lionel Messi's retirement from international football seems so familiar. We, in Britain, are held tight in the iron grip of a Brexit. Meanwhile, in Argentina, a crippling Mexit is on the cards.
In light of La Albiceleste's defeat to Chile in the Copa America final, Messi has decided to call time on his international career. It's the third time he's been on the losing side at the denouement of the Copa America, while he also played in Argentina's 1-0 defeat to Germany at the final of the 2014 World Cup. After losing to Chile on Sunday evening – and missing a crucial spot kick in the eventual penalty shootout – Messi told reporters: "My thinking right now, and thinking about it in the locker room, is that I'm done playing with the national team. I tried everything possible to win, and that's it. It's four finals lost."
As an individual, Messi's frustrations are understandable. Rumours of general dissatisfaction with the Argentine Football Federation have been rife in the last few months, while FIFA was forced to take direct control of the organisation last week after various allegations of fraud. The problem is that Messi's decision has had far-reaching consequences for others. Although it's clear that the Argentine federation is in need of urgent reform, plunging the country into an unprecedented crisis probably isn't going to help.
In light of Messi's retirement, ESPN reports that several other Argentina stars are going to call time on their international careers. Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia are all reportedly retiring, while Ever Banega, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain are also considering their futures on the world stage. At this rate, Argentina are going to have to field 10 under-15 players and a ball-playing Chihuahua for the duration of the World Cup qualifying campaign. If the worst predictions of the Mexit fallout come to pass, the country will be completely and utterly fucked for years to come.
So, to recap, Lionel Messi is frustrated. He has made a drastic decision, partly influenced by an inadequate administrative system and partly influenced by his diminished sense of self-worth. That decision has had unintended consequences, which have plunged his country into almost total crisis. Sound familiar? Of course it does.
If Brexit is rather more of a geopolitical disaster than Mexit, understanding the latter might at least let us get our heads around the former. The psychology of anger and self-destruction has left Messi's international career on the brink of premature cessation, just as it has left Britain on the brink of a Conservative administration whose leading policies could include privatising our front gardens, a 95-hour working week and turning unemployed people into grout.
Thankfully, Messi is allowed to change his mind on Mexit. Perhaps Sergio Romero will share a particularly insightful Change.org petition on his Facebook, and Messi will realise that he's made a terrible mistake. If he quits international football now, he will never be vindicated from the errors of the past, while the future will be one of immeasurable isolation.
Learn from our predicament, Leo. Have a long, hard think before doing something you might regret.