Lionel Messi says that it makes him angry when people claim he calls the shots in the Argentina national team.
The Barca star, who scored a hat trick that took Argentina to the World Cup finals last month had been accused of selecting coaches and influencing which players do and do not make the squad in the past. Messi, however, branded those rumours “ridiculous”.
“It makes me angry that people say so many things so easily,” Messi replied when it was suggested that he runs the Argentina team. “People say a lot of things without knowing. So, on one hand, it makes me angry. But on the other hand, I am used to everything that they say.”
Messi added that those making the comments were showing a lack of respect, not just to him, but to his international teammates.
“It’s a lie that I put my friends and the coaches I want in the national team. I’m just one more player in the team, to tell these great players — [Angel] Di Maria, [Sergio] Aguero, [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Javier] Mascherano, who are worldwide figures — that, ‘You play because you’re Messi’s friend,’ shows a lack of respect towards them and also towards me.”
“I never choose players for the team or take them out. That’s not who I am. I am here to add to the squad, nothing else.”
Messi, 30, and a number of other players in Jorge Sampaoli’s Argentina squad are approaching the latter stages of their careers, which could make the Russian World Cup their last chance to win a World Cup. However, Messi said he doesn’t think about how many years he has left.
“No, honestly, I hadn’t taken a decision,” he said. “But I think it would have been yes, it would have been the end for this group, because it would have been crazy not to qualify for the World Cup. Honestly, I can’t even imagine what would have happened, because it would have been terrible for everyone.”
On the other hand, PSG’s Di Maria admitted that he felt that failing to qualify for Russia would have meant the finish to a number of international careers.
“It played with our heads that it took us so long to qualify,” Di Maria told ESPN. “To not have made it to the World Cup would have meant the end of international football for a lot of us, myself included. But now that we have, we can work much better with the coaching staff. Psychologically, not being able to score goals was fatal for us.”