Argentina head coach Lionel Scolari and team director Cesar Luis Menotti have clashed over Lionel Messi’s international return, with the forward set for his 129th cap on Friday.
The Barcelona superstar has not pulled on his national team colours since Argentina‘s loss to France in the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia last summer, but is expected to make his return in a friendly against Venezuela in Madrid on Friday.
Whether Messi will also travel to Tangier for next week’s friendly against Morocco remains to be seen, with national team director Menotti’s comments this week indicating he may not.
Speaking to Radio Gol, Menotti said: “It scares me that Messi plays. I see him emotionally fatigued between the Champions League and the national team. I see him very tired. He has a lot of obligations and with a lot of emotional baggage, a lot of responsibilities at his feet.”
Messi has been in exceptional form for Barcelona this season, scoring 39 goals in 37 matches, including six in his last three.
Head coach Scolari, however, has also weighed in and backed Messi to impress in the upcoming internationals.
He told a press conference: “It is a joy that Messi returns. I have to try to have the team accompany him and ensure he has the best of himself.
“Hopefully with the return of Messi the team will be strengthened.”
Should Messi play against Venezuela on Friday, it will be his 129th cap for Argentina.