Lionel Messi says he'll play for Argentina, despite criticism

Barcelona star Lionel Messi said he has no plans to let harsh media criticism from back home in Argentina affect him and that he will continue to represent the Albiceleste as long as coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino needs his services.

"I never said that I wasn't going to play any longer with the national team. More than how they killed me [media], they weren't going to kill me any more," Messi told ESPN FC radio on Thursday as he received his award for UEFA Best Player in Europe. "I am used to them saying these types of things. Now we have friendlies and as long as the coach calls me up I am going to continue to be present."

The four-time Ballon d'Or winner was criticised last month by some in the Argentine media following his team's penalty shootout defeat to hosts Chile in this summer's Copa America final, with even former Argentina coach Diego Maradona questioning his performances.

Martino, who also coached Messi at Barca, said earlier this month that he regrets previous comments he made saying that he "would have stopped playing with the national team a long time ago" if he had faced such criticism.

Messi, 28, has won every available trophy for Barca but has yet to win a trophy with the senior Argentina side.

Messi, Boca Juniors' Carlos Tevez and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero were all included in the Argentina 24-man squad recall for September friendlies in the United States against Bolivia and Mexico.

Argentina play Bolivia on Sept. 4 in Houston, Texas, and meet Mexico four days later in Dallas.

The Argentine federation said on Monday via a statement that given the absences of [Angel] Di Maria, [Pablo] Zabaleta, [Javier] Pastore and [Lucas] Biglia due to respective injuries, Martino has called up Matias Kranevitter, Emmanuel Mas, Angel Correa and Nicolas Gaitan.

Martino praised Atletico Madrid youngster Correa as "Argentina's most important young player" one day after adding him to the Albiceleste for September friendlies.

"He was of course going to be added to the team because he is the most accomplished young player in all of Argentina," Martino said during a news conference on Wednesday. "He, as well as the newly added players, are sure to continue to be part of the team."