Giovani Lo Celso insists that Lionel Messi’s presence isn’t a nuisance ahead of Argentina’s decisive Copa America showdown with Qatar.
Messi is on the verge of another heartbreaking setback in his international career as Argentina could suffer their first Copa America group-stage exit since 1983 on Sunday.
La Albiceleste are currently bottom of Group B with just a point to their name in two matches. Therefore, anything less than victory against Qatar in Porto Alegre will likely send them packing.
Now, Argentina icon Mario Kempes has suggested Messi should take some time off from international duty. The 1978 World Cup winner suggested the players are lacking any real personality and are depending too much on the Barcelona superstar.
With his 32nd birthday coming up on Monday, though, time is beginning to run out on Messi’s Argentina days. He’s still yet to win any silverware at international level following back-to-back Copa America final defeats and another loss in the 2014 World Cup final.
But Lo Celso has rubbished Kempes’ suggestion that Messi’s presence may be more of a problem than a help to Argentina.
“I think not, I see the opposite,” said Real Betis midfielder Lo Celso, according to Fox Sports.
“Having Leo as a partner and playing with him is a privilege. On the contrary, it always solves everything.
“In that sense, of course, we try to take advantage of it. So having him in training, like in games is a privilege. These are things that do not happen every day, sharing training and matches with him.
“When I’m young, I try to observe, to learn a lot. Because it does not always happen and for me it’s a privilege and try to learn as much as I can alongside it.”
Argentina could progress to the quarter-finals by either defeating Qatar, who sit above them in third on goal difference in Group B, or hoping that Colombia thrash second-place Paraguay by a margin.
However, head coach Lionel Scaloni is only thinking of option A and could opt to start Juventus’ Paulo Dybala alongside Messi for the Qatar match.
“They can play together, they’re two top-level players and they need to work together, which they haven’t done much, but with compromise, they could do it,” said Scaloni.
Messi and Argentina will kick-off their decisive match at 21:00 (CET).