Erik Lamela could be given the chance to replace Messi for Argentina

Soccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Argentina at USA

The Tottenham star could see his role with Argentina develop significantly after the Barcelona icon's international retirement.

Soccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Argentina at USASoccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Argentina at USA

Though it will feel difficult to find positives today, Tottenham's Erik Lamela could see his international prospects enhanced after Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi retired from international duty in the fallout from Argentina's penalty shoot-out defeat to Chile in the Copa America.

Today will undoubtedly be a dark day for many Argentina fans and football fans in general. There will be few supporters of the beautiful game that would have looked forward to a player as exciting and talented as Lionel Messi stepping down from international football.

It means the next World Cup in Russia will be shorn of a player who will likely still be the very best in the world, and for some, the best of all time.

However, for Tottenham's Lamela, his path to the starting eleven of his country has just seen the biggest obstacle imaginable removed.

Soccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Argentina at BoliviaSoccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Argentina at Bolivia

This summer Lamela has gone from a peripheral figure in Gerardo Martino's squad to a key member of the group. The 24-year-old has featured in the last seven consecutive matches for Argentina, part of a 10-match winning run, scoring two goals in the process. However, only two of those appearances have been starts in what was an attacking group full of talent.

Lamela, who scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists in 44 matches in North London last season, will now battle the likes of Nicolas Gaitan, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore for the spot that Messi has vacated for Argentina, as unenviable a task as that may be.

Tottenham's Erik Lamela in action with Aston Villa's Carlos SanchezTottenham's Erik Lamela in action with Aston Villa's Carlos Sanchez

Arguably, the Spurs man has enjoyed the best form out of those four players, and has the benefit of being a left footed player most comfortable on the right flank, like Messi. And importantly, he is by far the youngest attacking player in the current Argentina squad.

Though he is a very different player to Messi, or any of the other wingers in the squad, Lamela has developed defensive qualities under Mauricio Pochettino that compliment his wonderful skill, and could make him a potent international player.

Lamela was distraught at the final whistle, and of course it's understandable. Alongside disappointment at the defeat, he and the rest of the Argentina squad would certainly prefer Messi to be involved with the national team as long as possible, for many reasons, not least his ability to win matches.

But it could end up that the former Roma man gets the chance to forge his own career for his country with Messi's departure, a sliver of silver lining for the Tottenham star to embrace.

Soccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Argentina at VenezuelaSoccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Argentina at Venezuela

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