Football La Liga

‘Argentina need to be more than Messi’ – Veron concerned by over-reliance on Barcelona superstar

The Albiceleste have looked to a talismanic presence for inspiration in recent years, but have been urged to turn themselves into more of a team

Argentina cannot continue to rely on Lionel Messi for inspiration, says Juan Sebastian Veron, with a nation in transition needing to move away from being a one-man team.

While the Albiceleste have plenty of star quality at their disposal, with leading lights representing top teams around the world, they have struggled to find a winning formula of late.

Struggles at World Cup 2018 highlighted those flaws, with a disappointing last-16 exit made in Russia.

Too much emphasis has been placed on the ability of Messi to dig his country out of various holes, with Argentina now being urged to offer greater support to the Barcelona talisman as they welcome in a new era.

Former Manchester United and Inter star Veron told ESPN Argentina after seeing Pablo Aimar and Lionel Scaloni appointed as interim successors to ousted coach Jorge Sampaoli: “It’s time to build a group.

“Obviously, if Leo is eager [to be part of the national team], they would need to involve him little by little.

“I think we have to prepare the base and once and for all think about a team and not think about someone who can save us.

“Even more at this time, watching other national teams and how they faced the World Cup, it seems essential to think about a group.”

Messi is yet to state in public whether he will be continuing his international career towards World Cup 2022 – by which time he will be 35 years of age – but former team-mate Carlos Tevez believes a five-time Ballon d’Or will be looking to add to his haul of 128 caps.

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He said: “I think Leo has to think about himself.

“He has to think that, if there is not a project that makes him happy and in which he feels comfortable, it is very difficult to take the responsibility of leading Argentina to become champions by himself.

“We are wasting a lot of time not having him happy and not being able to give him a hand to achieve that target.

“I think we are wrong in not being able to help him feel comfortable.

“As a player and as an Argentine I tell him that we need him, that he must try to rest, that he keeps a cool head and that we need him.

“We need him because he is the soul of Argentina and, as long as he continues playing football, it has to be that way because he is Argentina’s biggest idol and he has to take that responsibility.

“Now [I tell him] to rest, keep a cool head and try to be well, then we need him to take charge and on the pitch.”

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