Lionel Messi says he is “angry” with “ridiculous” reports that he wields too much influence on the Argentina national team.
The Barcelona star almost single-handedly dragged his country to the World Cup finals last month when he scored a hat-trick in their vital final qualifier against Ecuador.
It has been suggested that Messi, who has scored 61 goals in 122 caps, has a hand in influencing the selection of players and coaches – something he strenuously denies.
” 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. 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.”
In a separate interview, Messi said that such suggestions betrayed a lack of respect for the senior members of the Argentina team, as well as himself.
“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,” the Barcelona forward said.
” 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.”