Sampaoli: World Cup pressure damaging Messi

Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli has claimed that Lionel Messi is negatively affected by pressure on him to win a World Cup.

An extract from a book written by the manager, which is set to be released in April, has been published in Viva. In it, Sampaoli has argued: "Messi has a revolver put to his head called the World Cup and if he doesn't win it, he's shot and killed.

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"As a result, he can't enjoy his talent.

"What I find is that the negativity surrounding international football damages Messi."

Although he feels it will take a team effort to win the World Cup in Russia this year, Sampaoli admits that he is in awe of Messi, who he believes is the best footballer of all time.

"At this moment, I feel that I'm coaching the best player in history," he said. "This is a guy who has stayed as the best in the world for 10 years.

"It's difficult to assume a level of control when your leader knows he's better than you. He executes things like nobody else."

Argentina have been placed in Group D for the World Cup, where they will face Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.