With the World Cup fast approaching, Lionel MESSI has commented on the tournament itself, not playing as much, Sergio AGUERO, Gonzalo HIGUAIN and much more.
In an interview with TyC Sports, the world’s best player spoke about his personal life, Jorge SAMPAOLI and more. Here’s what he had to say:
Lionel MESSI on the FIFA World Cup
“If Argentina don’t do well in this World Cup, we will all have to disappear from the national team. I think that Croatia gives you more room to play but Iceland is more closed off in the back. And it’s very difficult to open up a team which is so tight on the back and quick on the counter.
“We went through a tough spell. But it’s true that we have to improve if we aspire to be world champions. I think that we have time to improve in these games and before the World Cup. when we’ll have a month to put everything in order before the start. As we are today, we are not far from that although there are better teams than us such as Brazil, Germany, France and Spain.
“We’ve had good games or at least good moments with SAMPAOLI. But we haven’t had a lot of games with him either. There was also the added pressure and the need to win. It’s not easy to play in those moments, with a lot of new guys, a lot of guys who weren’t used to going through these moments with the National Team. And that makes you play differently.”
Lionel MESSI on Sergio AGUERO
“Having Kun (AGUERO) with the form he is in right now at Manchester City, that is an advantage for us. He is one of the best in the world. Jorge SAMPAOLI’s arrival has done him a lot of good. Kun needs love. He has to feel like he has the coach’s trust and confidence and feel important within the group. Today he feels that on and off the pitch.”
Lionel MESSI on the Argentina National Team
“We are searching for (everyone’s happiness). This group has gone throught some difficult moments. It hurts a lot to have gone to three finals and be so criticised. We are the first ones to want to win with the national team. Playing in Argentina is an added pressure for this group that is criticized so much. It’s much more difficult for us to play at home than on the road.
“In the middle of all that has happened, we have suffered criticism outside of what is normal, they were criticising everything. Not only were they criticising what happened on the pitch but off it as well. That is why there is bitterness when we don’t achieve the results that we are looking for. Because we know what awaits us when that happens.
“They (the detractors) are waiting for all of us to leave, because it seems like we have been on the national team too long and it gets tiring to see the same players. Everything happens because of that. People want to see results. We feel like that and we carry that (burden). That’s not something that just happened. We’ve thought about that since the last Copa America, since the World Cup Qualifiers.”
Lionel MESSI on Javier MASCHERANO leaving Barcelona
“I understand that MASCHERANO wants to play more. He’s in the final year (of his contract) and he wants to play, not sit on the bench despite him sitting on the FCBarcelona bench. There is nothing more beautiful than playing and enjoying those matches. MASCHERANO sees now that he does not have that possibility here anymore.”
Lionel MESSI on Jorge SAMPAOLI:
“The coach talks to the players a great deal beyond the idea he has. I don’t dare tell him that I like this player or the other. There has been so much said about me running the national team and that I had my friends playing. It’s not like that. SAMPAOLI was being criticized before he took over as coach. Many people did not want him. He might not have known it before he took over, but he must know now that Argentina different compared to anything else.”
“SAMPAOLI was with Chile and had a very successful time there. He won the Copa América and lost to Brazil in penalties. He did things well there, but Argentina is something totally different. SAMPAOLI hadn’t taken over yet and they were already killing him. Maybe it is possible to think that this is an easy team to manage. Anyone who has been there, knows it is quite complicated.”
Lionel MESSI on resting
“I have learned that the season is long, that there are times which are harder than others because the years fly by and now my body pays the price for playing in so many matches. Being on the bench sucks. I realised that sometimes not playing is for the best. Being on the bench sucks because from the outside you see things more easily and you notice things you don’t when you’re playing. Sometimes you ask yourself ‘why didn’t he do that? It was easy.’ But on the pitch things aren’t as easy. I achieve records that I only find out about days later because people tell me about them.”
“Individual awards aren’t my goal. I’m interested in achieving things with the team. It was nice when I won them, especially in the first years, but I give more importance to the team trophies. I want to win more leagues and Champions League’s and something with Argentina. These are my goals.
Lionel MESSI on Gonzalo HIGUAIN
“He is suffering for the national team, but he must be in it. For me he is one of the best number nines in the world. He demonstrates this every weekend at Juventus but does not play the same with Argentina. The critics make him suffer, we have spoken about it many times. I believe that this period without the national team did him good. We spoke about it through messages, it was a good thing that he had this period of absence. But he must be in the squad.”
“The criticism went beyond normal and went beyond football. The bitterness we feel is because we know what awaits us if we do badly. People want results and, if they don’t get results, they want new faces.
Lionel MESSI on Barcelona, Newell’s Old Boys
“I’ve said many times that my dream is to play at Newell’s but I don’t know what will happen, and a part of that doubt is due to the way the country is at the moment. I have a family and my children come first, and then me. I want them to grow up in a calm place, being able to enjoy life with security. It is very ugly to see the things that happen in Argentina, that you can go out on the street and people want to rob you and that they can kill you.”
Lionel MESSI on his kids
“Benja, Luis’ (SUAREZ) son is really into football. He lives, breathes for football. He knows all the players. Thiago (MESSI’s older son), not really. He prefers cars, motorbikes. He likes football but that’s it. He just plays a little bit and gets tired. Mateo and Thiago (MESSI’s youngest son) are very different. Thiago is a phenomenon, more good and the other is just the opposite, a son of a bitch.”