'Angry' Lionel Messi slams 'ridiculous' reports over Argentina selection
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."