'Messi's shadow is too much for some players' - Argentina coach Scaloni sees downside to Barcelona superstar

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The Albiceleste coach admits that some younger players in his squad can find it difficult to operate alongside a five-time Ballon d'Or winner

Lionel Messi’s shadow “hangs over the pitch and might be too much for some of the youngsters”, says Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

The South American nation are delighted to have an all-time great available to them.

A five-time Ballon d’Or winner has not always delivered for his country and is still waiting on a first senior international honour.

There is, however, no questioning his value to the cause and the hope is that he will add many more outings to the 129 caps he has already collected to date.

Scaloni is certainly hoping to have Messi available for the foreseeable future, with Argentina currently counting down the days to another Copa America campaign.

The Albiceleste coach is, however, eager to point out that the presence of a global superstar is not always a positive for him and those he selects to compete alongside an icon.

Scaloni told TNT Sports of Messi: “The shadow of him which hangs over the pitch might be too much for some of the youngsters.

“We are always asking about him. In the matches he's played for the national team, it's very rare that he hasn't given his all.

“The best thing we can do is ask for everyone else to perform as they do for their clubs.”

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Messi has faced questions throughout his international career.

Accusations have often been levelled at him of failing to replicate the performances he puts in for Barcelona when away with his countrymen.

Scaloni, though, is not about to buy into that way of thinking.

He added: “We need to take advantage of the fact he's on the pitch with us.

“He's the greatest player of all time but on the pitch he needs to be just another person who helps us win.

“We need him on the ball. What we need to do if he drops deep is another player goes into his position in attack. Leo is a forward, creates assists and the closer he is to the goal the better.”

While aware of the obvious benefits that representing Barca has delivered for Messi, Scaloni has suggested that other Argentine talents should not be so eager to head away from their homeland.

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He said: “I do not think it's true that the best are there, in Europe. What is evident is that, on an economic level, the best players of 18 or 20 years of age are at the best clubs in the world.

“The best thing for us would be that most clubs can keep top talents in Argentine football for another year, so we can enjoy them a little more and the player would go to Europe being a more complete player.

“Most of the guys who leave for Europe see themselves as one for the future, as promising, and we never see it where they go to Europe already being a phenomenon.”

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