Sampaoli keen to build around 'very excited' Messi in Argentina team

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The former Sevilla man took his first press conference on Thursday and revealed the team captain is looking forward to working with him

Newly appointed Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli described Lionel Messi as very excited as he prepares to build around the Barcelona star.

Sampaoli was finally unveiled as head coach on Thursday, signing a deal through to the 2022 World Cup.

His first test is far more pressing, with Argentina sitting fifth – the play-off spot – in qualifying for Russia 2018.

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Sampaoli has the benefit of having arguably the world's best player at his disposal and the former Chile and Sevilla coach said Messi was ready to shine.

"I had to face Messi. We want the world's best player to feel happy being here," he told a news conference.

"The important thing is that Messi has compatible players. I spoke to him and he is very excited."

A surprising selection in Argentina's latest squad – to face Brazil and Singapore in friendlies later this month – was Mauro Icardi.

The Inter captain has just one international appearance to his name and that outing came in 2013.

But Sampaoli said the forward's performances this season, during which he scored 26 goals in all competitions, warranted selection.

"The call for Mauro Icardi is related to the performance in his team," he said.

Earlier, Sevilla officially confirmed Sampaoli's departure after the Argentinian's one season in charge saw them finish fourth in LaLiga.

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