|Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (left) vies with Sevilla’s French defender Clement Lenglet during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Wednesday. — AFP/VNA Photo|Viet Nam News
BARCELONA — Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli says that compatriot Lionel Messi should be the pride of Argentina rather than criticised for his failure to deliver a major trophy.
Messi was in top form on his return from suspension and scored twice as Barcelona extended Sevilla’s slump in a 3-0 win on Wednesday.
But while he is a hero at the Camp Nou, Messi has not always had the same adulation in his homeland.
"There is a necessity for some people to win something solely thanks to Leo," said Sampaoli, who has been linked with taking over as Argentina boss for the rest of their faltering World Cup qualifying campaign.
"That seems like too much of a burden to me for a player who has given everything and who makes all of Argentina proud that he is the best in the world."
Messi was handed a four-match international ban for insulting an assistant referee in a 1-0 win over Chile on March 24.
Without the five-time World Player of the Year, Argentina then lost 2-0 to Bolivia to fall to fifth in South American World Cup qualifying with only the top four guaranteed their places in Russia next year.
Widespread reports in Argentina over the weekend claimed that Sampaoli would be the leading candidate for the job if coach Edgardo Bauza is sacked before the two-time world champions’ next qualifier, away to Uruguay on August 31.
Messi has been a beaten finalist three times with Argentina, at the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America.
After missing a penalty in a shootout defeat to Chile in 2016 he briefly announced his retirement from international football before reversing that decision two months later. — AFP