Argentina head coach Edgardo Bauza scoffed at suggestions Lionel Messi picks his friends in the national team, insisting the captain has no say in squad selection.
Bauza moved to deny speculation the five-time Ballon d’Or winner influenced Argentina’s starting XI.
“They say that Messi puts his friends in the Argentina team and it’s all lies,” Bauza told DeporTea.
“It’s an invention of the media.”
Messi scored a stunning free-kick and assisted two goals as Argentina defeated Colombia 3-0 in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying last week.
The Barcelona star also announced Argentina players would no longer be speaking to the media following accusations made against team-mate Ezequiel Lavezzi amid allegations he was left out of the squad because he had been smoking cannabis.
Messi then missed Barca’s goalless LaLiga draw at home to Malaga, though he is expected to be fit for the Champions League fixture against Celtic.