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Mario Kempes tells Argentina to give Lionel Messi a break

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Argentina World Cup winner Mario Kempes reckons giving Lionel Messi some time off from international duty “wouldn’t be a bad thing”.

Following nearly nine months on the sidelines, Messi returned to action for Argentina in March and is now in Brazil attempting to win his first international trophy in the Copa America.

But the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has struggled to work his magic on an ailing Argentina team, who could be on their way out of the Copa America on Sunday against Qatar in the group stages.

La Albiceleste are currently bottom of Group B after two matches. They managed just a single point following an opening day defeat to Colombia and last Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Paraguay.

Therefore, Messi’s hopes of finally winning something with Argentina appear to be almost non-existent at this stage.

This has renewed fears the Barcelona superstar could retire for good this time after changing his mind at the last minute in 2016.

But Kempes has suggested giving Messi a break from international duty may actually work out for everybody.

“We have not known for many years how best to play,” he told TyC Sports.

“The story keeps being repeated. You cannot see a system or a team. You can’t see anything.

“What would happen if this national team took Messi out? Why do not we take him out and form a selection without Messi, and see if the players who are very good at their clubs bloom.

“I think that giving Messi a break would not be a bad thing.”

Kempes added: “He wants to give everything, but the years go by and he feels tired. He has done everything possible to win something with the national team.

“There is a Messi dependence. He’s the best in the world and they all look to give the ball to him, it’s a lack of personality.

“We cannot pretend that Messi will solve all the problems. He cannot carry everything on his shoulders. It’s a big problem in Argentina.

“It’s impossible to replace him. You will not find another Messi, but you can train a team without having the best in the world. It can go wrong, but with Messi there is no personality.”

Messi has managed 68 goals and 43 assists in 132 appearances for Argentina. The 31-year-old has already issued his team-mates a rallying call ahead of Sunday’s decisive clash.

Lionel Scaloni’s side will meet Qatar for their Group B finale in Porto Alegre. Kick-off will begin at at 21:00 (CET).

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL – JUNE 19: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates after scoring the equalizer against Paraguay.