Sabella: Foreign-based players are at a higher level than in Argentina

European stars such as Lionel Messi have struggled to win the same affection from fans as Primera players, but Sabella affirmed that he has to pick the best for the Albiceleste
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has recognised that he has to focus his squad selection on players based in Europe's top leagues, as stars in Spain, Italy and other nations play at a much higher level than those in the local system.

Fans of the Seleccion have traditionally favoured their Primera Division heroes over those who star across the Atlantic Ocean; mistrusting superstars like Lionel Messi, who has never appeared in his home country since moving as a teenager to Barcelona.

But according to Sabella, such local sentiments must be tempered with the commitment to put out the best 11 players available to the South American nation.

"Over there the level of play is a bit more competitive, and a bit more demanding," the former Estudiantes coach explained in Wednesday's interview with Reuters.

"Players are now going to Europe at a very early age and the supporter loses the connection, which they still have for the player who defends the shirt of the club which they support. They see these men with a different set of eyes."

Messi is perhaps the best example of an Argentina star who has found his way outside the country; and Sabella returned to a familiar theme as he showered praise on 'La Pulga'.

"He has one great virtue. Besides his brilliant talent he has an instinct for goal that means he can beat players so often with the ball and he also constantly wants to score, that makes him an extraordinary player," he stated.

Argentina resume their bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup on June 2, when they take Ecuador in Buenos Aires.