Tabarez ponders a World Cup without Messi

Lionel Messi

With Argentina potentially set to miss out on next year’s World Cup in Russia, Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez said it will not be a 'stain' on Lionel Messi's career.

With just one qualifier left to play, against Ecuador on Wednesday, the 2014 runners-up find themselves sixth in South American qualifying after Friday’s 0-0 with Peru.

Argentina now needs to win in Quito while Peru plays their final qualifier against Colombia, with both matches taking place at the same time on Tuesday night.

That creates a possibility of a World Cup without the world’s best player, but Uruguay’s head coach does not believe that Argentina’s failure, and Messi’s absence, will ruin the Barcelona forward's legacy.

"I don't see it as a stain and it shouldn't be like that," Tabarez said. "There are a lot of great players in football's history that weren't world champions and they're not stained by that, at least for me.

"Besides that, Messi is still playing, you can't tell what will happen. Argentina are having problems to qualify but if they do, they'll be favourites to win the World Cup.

"He's a huge player but he can't do it all, this is a team sport. He plays with praise regarding him being the best, but while taking all the fault when things don't go well, even when he's not responsible.

"Football is not easy and not always the best players can handle everything. The statistics are meant to be interpreted but if you take a look at Messi's statistics, during his whole career, they're impressive, you can't believe it.

"And that's enough to enter football's history. But sometimes it is not enough… In that history, it has either to be champion of the World Cup or he's not worthy and I don't agree with that."

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