Simeone: World Cup might have distracted Messi

The Argentina ace netted 41 times in 46 games in all competitions for Barcelona during the 2013-14 campaign but it has been claimed that he was saving himself for Brazil

Diego Simeone has suggested that Lionel Messi became distracted by the World Cup last season.

The Argentina international scored 41 goals in 46 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona in 2013-14 but his performances and attitude were the subject of much scrutiny throughout an injury-interrupted campaign.

It has been suggested that Messi was saving himself for the World Cup, which many argue the attacker needs to win in order to strengthen his claim on the title of the greatest player of all time.

Simeone, for his part, feels that it is entirely possible that the four-time Ballon d'Or winner has become consumed with proving himself on the game's grandest stage but is in no doubt that the 26-year-old will handle the pressure he has placed upon himself.

"After winning so much in Europe, it's normal that a World Cup could be tempting for him; that it could pose him extra responsibilities and pressures," the Atletico Madrid boss told Perform.

"But it'll be a great responsibility for him. There is no doubt that winning a World Cup makes you more special.

"Few players have had the chance to win it [from] our country. So that's why he and his team-mates will try to take Argentina to the best place in the world."

Indeed, Simeone is in no doubt that Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella has constructed a side capable of lifting the trophy.

"It will be a unique opportunity [for Argentina] in Brazil," he mused. "They will have to compete well as a team, the way they have done recently.

"Alejandro has overseen this growth in the last stages of qualifying and also in recent friendlies.

"At the end of the day, the progress must be shown on the pitch for all to see."

After leading Atletico to a shock Liga title win, as well as the final of the Champions League, Simeone is now one of the most sought-after coaches in world football.

However, the former midfield enforcer insists that he would turn down the chance to lead his country if the opportunity presented itself after the World Cup.

"Of course I would like to coach Argentina one day but for now, I feel that I still want to coach from the touchline every day," he explained.

"I look at the best national head coaches like Luis Aragones or Vicente del Bosque and I think you need to find the experience and wisdom you get from a long managerial career in order to be in the best seat in the world - your national side's.

"You need to be calm and patient and I'm not sure I have that right now due to my restlessness to be there on the pitch close to my players every day.

"Coaching a national side is different. That's why I'm convinced that you need an experience given by time and a patience given by the years to be in that place."