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Argentina Boss Describes Immense Pressure Lionel Messi Is Under

Argentina Boss Describes Immense Pressure Lionel Messi Is Under
By Eoin Lyons

The World Cup is often used as the watermark to judge the status of a player and until Lionel Messi wins the coveted trophy, there will always be question marks over the Argentine's status as one of the all-time greats.

The Barcelona star was denied the trophy in 2014, losing out to Germany 1-0 in the final and Argentinian boss Jorge Sampaoli has described the pressure on Messi's shoulders heading into the summer's tournament in Russia as akin to having a gun to his head.

Sampaoli is releasing a book in April and passages have been published by Viva magazine, detailing the pressure the 30-year-old  is under:

Messi has a revolver put to his head called the World Cup and if he doesn't win it, he's shot and killed. As a result, he can't enjoy his talent. What I find is that the negativity surrounding international football damages Messi.

A shocking comparison by the former Sevilla boss to make but perhaps warranted given the entire nations' hopes are pinned on the back of the diminutive number 10.

Sampaoli went on to praise Messi for his consistency remarking that he felt he was coaching the "best player in history" and that the forward has stayed among the best players in the world for ten years.

The 58-year-old also revealed that he finds it difficult to manage Messi simply because he is so good:

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It's difficult to assume a level of control when your leader knows he's better than you, he executes things like nobody else. You have to find the best players and put them in their best position. Leo has to play like he does for his club, to put him into another structure is madness.

Argentina have a wealth of attacking talent heading into Russia but struggled to qualify for the competition needing a play-off against Ecuador in order to secure their place and with Messi on the wrong side of 30, this summer's tournament is the five time Ballon d'Or winners' last realistic chance to captain his country to World Cup success.

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