Lionel Messi terms claims of influence over Argentina selections as ‘ridiculous’
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Lionel Messi terms claims of influence over Argentina selections as ‘ridiculous’

Lionel Messi has refuted claims that he influences the player and managerial selections in the Argentina national football team

football Updated: Nov 09, 2017 17:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Lionel Messi,Argentina national football team,2018 FIFA World Cup
Lionel Messi is not pleased with claims that he influences team selections in the Argentina national football team.(Getty Images for ICC)

Argentina captain Lionel Messi, who has on several occasions been accused of using his influence to alter the national team’s selection of players and coaches, said that he is used to these kind of ‘ridiculous’ claims.

The Barcelona superstar did, however, acknowledge that such statements do anger him from time to time, but that he can live with them.

“It makes me angry that people say so many things so easily. 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,” ESPN quoted Messi as saying.

“I am used to all the ridiculous things they say not just about me, but about this group [of players] from the last few years, so I can live with it,” added Messi.

In an interview with Argentine sports channel TyC Sports, Messi had completely brushed aside any notions of his involvement in the inclusion or omission of key players from Argentina’s squad.

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“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,” Messi said.

Argentina’s leading goal scorer also said that claims such as these are not just disrespectful to him, but also towards his team mates.

“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.

“It’s a lie. 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 who recently netted a hat trick against Ecuador to carry Argentina to the World Cup next year says that failing to qualify for the World Cup would have been terrible.

READ | Lionel Messi keen to avoid Spain in 2018 FIFA World Cup draw

For players like Messi, who is 30-years-old, and some of his compatriots who are approaching the final stages of their career, not making it to Russia in 2018 would have put an end to this batch’s final chance to win the global title.

“No, honestly, I hadn’t taken a decision (on my international future). 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 possibility of Russia 2018 being his last World Cup, Messi said that he is focused on the present rather than the future.

“I don’t know. I try to not to look at the future and to just focus on the day-to-day and set objectives in the near future. I don’t know what’s going to happen after the World Cup. We’re just going to keep growing in the coming months, taking advantage of the little time we have [before Russia 2018]. After that, we will see.”

First Published: Nov 09, 2017 17:42 IST