'Football needs Messi to win the World Cup' - Del Potro desperate for Argentina triumph

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Despite collecting an enviable haul of honours at club level with Barcelona, international silverware has continued to elude an all-time great

Football “needs” Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi to taste World Cup glory, according to tennis star and fellow Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.

While being a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and a man with four Champions League crowns and eight La Liga titles to his name, all-time great Messi is yet to savour senior international success.

He has graced World Cup and Copa America finals, but fate has always conspired against him to leave a gaping hole on the most distinguished of sporting CVs.

He will get another opportunity to right those wrongs in Russia this summer, with 2009 US Open winner Del Potro of the opinion that a triumph for Argentina would be embraced by supporters across the globe.

The 29-year-old, who has won the Davis Cup and Olympic medals while representing his country, told reporters: “I think Argentina and everybody wants to see Messi with the World Cup, no?

“The soccer world needs Messi with that trophy.

“And, in my country, we have very high expectation in Russia. And I know the players feel that pressure, because I felt it when I was playing Davis Cup. It was similar.

“But Leo is a great guy and he deserves to win, but he’s doing more than he can for our country, and I’m very proud to have Messi with the Argentinean flags around the world, and hopefully Argentina can win the World Cup.”

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Argentina, who required a hat-trick from Messi in their final qualifier to reach the 2018 World Cup, have been placed in Group D at this summer’s showpiece alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

They will take on those challenges with a galaxy of attacking stars at their disposal.

Alongside Messi, national team coach Jorge Sampaoli is in a position to select from the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Paul Dybala, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria.

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