Argentina head coach Edgardo Bauza says he advised Lionel Messi to block out the “idiots” prior to the Barcelona superstar changing his mind on international retirement.
Messi announced his plans to step away from national-team duties following Argentina’s loss to Chile in the Copa America Centenario – their third major final defeat in as many years.
But earlier this month, the 29-year-old confirmed he had gone back on that decision, with Bauza then selecting the forward in his first squad, for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela.
And Bauza, appointed as a replacement for Gerardo Martino at the start of August, says he told Messi to shrug off any external criticism.
“I went [to speak to Messi] not to convince, I went to talk football,” Bauza told La Nacion.
“We were almost two hours talking about football and naturally it came out [from that] that he would be on the list.
“I told him that in Argentina there are 100 idiots, who speak and criticise, but I told him that people want much, and if you are still heeding 100 idiots who criticise, you would go crazy.
“Then came this statement, which I found very natural, and that tells you about his desire to be in the selection and win something with the national team.
“Having the best in the world does not guarantee you’ll win the game, but you are guaranteed a great threat to the opponent. We need to better take advantage of Messi.
“I imagine him in two or three positions, something we already talked about with him, but let’s see. It depends on the team.
“He has that pressure naturally by who he is. And he knows it. And we all know that when the ball goes through him, he can make something different happen. But we need help from the team.”