The Barcelona star clashed with one of Sampaoli’s assistants in March, and also advised the head coach to drop two players for the World Cup, claims Argentinean daily Clarín.
The Argentinean press has attempted to shed some more light on the apparent influence Lionel Messi holds in the national team camp. An article by daily newspaper Clarín describes two incidents which took place this year — one before the friendly against Spain in March, which Argentina lost 6-1, and the other when the team was congregated in Russia for the World Cup — that demonstrate Messi’s power over the coaching staff.
The first took place when the team was spending a few days in Manchester to prepare for the upcoming friendly games against Italy and France. During a training session at Manchester City’s training ground, Sebastián Beccacece, one of the assistants to coach Jorge Sampaoli, approached Messi to give him instruction.
While Beccacece was speaking to Messi to correct him on something he deemed he was doing wrong, he was touching him on the shoulder. According to Clarín, Messi was angered more by the gesture than Beccacece’s words, and asked Sampaoli that something like that never happen again.
Messi tells Sampaoli to drop Fazio and Lo Celso
The other incident demonstrates the influence Messi has on team selection. Clarín claims that Messi spoke to Sampaoli about dropping Federico Fazio and Giovani Lo Celso, pointing to supposed weaknesses in each player’s game. After it transpired that Fazio played only the second half in the last 16 defeat to France, while Lo Celso didn’t play a single minute at the World Cup.
In the case of Lo Celso, Clarín offers the hypothesis that Messi’s grudge against the PSG player was the result of his embarrassment after Lo Celso easily beat him in a game of football tennis during a training session. Although sources close to the player had already denied this to the Buenos Aires newspaper.