Sampaoli: Argentina coach claims Messi is hurt by World Cup pressure

Argentina national team coach Jorge Sampaoli feels that Lionel Messi is unable to enjoy outings for his country with expectations so high, with the World Cup become “a revolver put to his head” and placeing unnecessary damaging pressure upon his shoulders.

Messi is yet to claim major silverware at senior international level has only been able to reach finals of the Copa America and World Cup, although he will have another opportunity to get his hands on the most elusive of prizes in Russia this summer.

Sampaoli believes expectation levels placed upon Messi, are already spiralling out of control in his book to be published in April, which “Viva”, Clarin’s Sunday magazine has been running snippets.

“Messi has a revolver put to his head called the World Cup and if he doesn’t win it, he’s shot and killed,” one of the snippets read. “As a result, he can’t enjoy his talent. What I find is that the negativity surrounding international football damages Messi.”

Still, Sampaoli concedes that he is working with a special talent.

“At this moment, I feel that I’m coaching the best player in history,” he added. “This is a guy who has stayed as the best in the world for 10 years. It’s difficult to assume a level of control when your leader knows he’s better than you, he executes things like nobody else.”

The former Sevilla coach has previously suggested that football owes Messi a World Cup win — given all that he has done for the game — but he is also aware that it will take a collective effort in Russia if Argentina are to emerge victorious.

“You have to find the best players and put them in their best position,” he said. “Leo has to play like he does for his club, to put him into another structure is madness.”

“Against Ecuador I was a bit strong in my tone suggesting that football owed Messi a World Cup, however I knew he was going to appear for us at the vital moments.”

Messi, who is suffering from muscle fatigue in a hamstring and adductor muscle at the moment, would miss Argentina’s game against Spain after the injury already ruled him out of the 2-0 win over Italy last Friday night.

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