BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Lionel Messi "never left" Argentina's national team and will be ready when coach Lionel Scaloni calls upon him, the head of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said on Wednesday.
Messi has not represented the Albiceleste since June 30, when the team crashed out of the World Cup in Russia with a 4-3 defeat in the last 16 to eventual champions France.
But having requested an indefinite break from international football, many observers expect the Barcelona forward to be included in coach Lionel Scaloni's squad for friendlies in March.
"Leo Messi never left the national team," AFA president Claudio Tapia said in an interview published on the association's website. "I think the love he has for the shirt is so great that when he is called upon he'll be there, I have no doubt about that. It will depend on the coach and not on him."
Tapia said Messi had been in a positive mood when the pair met in Madrid earlier this month after the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors.
"He looked happy, very happy," he said. "I hope that he will be a part of Argentina's upcoming squads because it makes people happy watching him play. He represents our country and is a standard-bearer for world football. He is the best player in the world, without doubt."