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    Argentina national team coach praises Messi

    22 de marzo de 2018

    Manchester, England, Mar 22 (efe-epa).- Argentine national soccer team coach Jorge Sampaoli on Thursday highlighted the important role of Barcelona star Lionel Messi with the team.

    "Leo is in his maturity phase, at a time of a lot of responsibility. Apart from arriving (at Manchester) a little bit tired, he trained very well and boosted all his teammates. Messi is a reflection of the team," Sampaoli said at a press conference for Friday's friendly game against Italy.

    "This team is more Messi's than mine. Everything that the world's best (player) does gives a big boost to his players and in this phase of maturity and greatness he has been a great help," he added.

    The coach said that the friendly matches "help to consolidate the idea and the squad. All national teams come from playing a lot of matches and the clubs have Champions League quarterfinals looming. The most important thing about this European tour is to consolidate a playing style and to see players who could give us a chance to prepare a national squad roster."

    Sampaoli said that the upcoming World Cup will prove that Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain, who returned to the national team after nine months away, "is one of the best forwards in the world."

    The former Sevilla coach admitted that Manchester City forward Aguero may not recover from a right knee injury he sustained on March 11 in time for the upcoming game against Spain on Tuesday.

    "Tomorrow he will jog a bit and then we will make the decision on whether to leave him with his club or take him with us to Spain, although this is very difficult, unless there is substantial improvement," he added.