FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi (24) was today named captain of the Argentinian national team ahead of La Albiceleste’s September 2 friendly in Kolkata, India against Venezuela.
Argentina’s new head coach Alejandro Sabella, who took over from Sergio Batista after the host team’s disappointing finish at this summer’s Copa America, had nothing but praise for La Pulga, telling Olé “we have to be thankful that we have Messi, the best player in the world and a man who loves to play for his country. It is hard for Messi to play badly, he always plays well. But the most important thing is to be grateful that we have him with us and leave him be so that he is happy.”
Sabella also defended his star from criticism of his lack of performance for the national team compared to his club. “We can’t think that Messi can win games on his own, or ask why he plays in one way for Barcelona and another for us,” he said. “We have to stop thinking that he doesn’t sing the anthem, let’s think that he is with us. He went to Spain very young.”
Messi takes over the captain’s armband from fellow FC Barcelona teammate defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano (27). Mascherano reigned as captain for almost three years since former head coach Diego Maradona appointed him in November of 2008. This isn’t the first time that Messi will be leading his national teammates onto the pitch. He also wore the captain’s armband at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in the group stage match against Greece, which Argentina won 2-0.