Argentina want Messi to Score, Assist, and even Defend – Valdano

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Argentina are too reliant on Lionel Messi and must improve the players around the Barcelona superstar, says former Real Madrid coach Jorge Valdano.

Messi played for his country for the first time since the World Cup as Argentina took on Venezuela in Madrid last week, yet his side were on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline.

The captain was subsequently ruled out of Tuesday’s friendly against Morocco , completing the latest chapter in what has sometimes been a difficult international career.

Messi has often been criticised for failing to replicate his club form as Argentina have lost a series of major finals but Valdano, who won the 1986 World Cup alongside the likes of Diego Maradona, feels too much blame is laid at the forward’s door.

“What Argentina needs to improve are those around Messi, not Messi,” Valdano told Onda Cero .

“They still expect Messi to do everything on his own that the whole team should be doing.

“Piling responsibility on the best player to resolve everything all of the time doesn’t seem the best way of doing things to me.”

Lionel Scaloni’s side got off to a terrible start in Madrid, going two goals behind after strikes from Salomon Rondon and Jhon Murrilo.

Lautaro Martinez’s effort in the second half then failed to spark a comeback as Venezuela converted a penalty with 15 minutes to play.

After their clash with Morroco, Argentina are not scheduled to play again until June when the Copa America gets underway.

The two-time world champions winners face Colombia, Paraguay and Qatar in the group stages as they make their first tournament appearance since last summer’s disappointing World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona will be hoping Messi is fit for their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester United on April 10 as the Catalan club aim to win their first European title in four years.

Ernesto Valverde’s team face city rivals Espanyol, Villarreal and second-placed La Liga side Atletico Madrid before then though.

With a 10-point lead in the Spanish top flight already, Barca will be hoping to put another nail in Atletico’s hopes with victory at Camp Nou.

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