'Messi is 50 per cent of the Argentina team' - Barcelona man 'powers everything', says Kluivert

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A former Blaugrana striker has admitted that a current Camp Nou star is vital to his nation's chances of securing World Cup glory this summer

Lionel Messi “powers everything” for Argentina, says Patrick Kluivert, with the Barcelona superstar “50 per cent of the national team”.

The mercurial 30-year-old forward will be seeking to rectify the one glaring omission on a remarkable sporting CV this summer when he heads to the 2018 World Cup.

International honours have so far eluded a man with countless domestic prizes and five Ballons d’Or to his name, with final heartache having been suffered on a global stage and at the Copa America.

If Argentina are to go all the way, then they will need a talismanic figure to sparkle and produce a repeat of the inspirational showings which got them to Russia.

Former Barca striker Kluivert admits his importance to the cause cannot be understated, telling Ole: “Messi is an important player, both for Barcelona and Argentina.

“I think he’s 50 per cent of the national team. I do not think it depends only on him, but on a good day he powers everything.

“Of course, he is human and one day you can wake up not quite right. Then things can be complicated for Argentina.

“In qualifying, when he was not there, the team suffered. They did not have the brilliance and could not win the games that with Messi they would surely have won.”

Kluivert believes that in spite of his international struggles, Messi remains the finest player on the planet.

There is a fresh collection of talent emerging within the world game ready to stake a claim to that title in the future, but for now eternal rivals at Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to set the standard.

“He [Messi] is the best in the world, I have no doubts,” said former Netherlands international Kluivert.

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“He and Cristiano Ronaldo are far above the rest. They are one and two without question. The Golden Ball will continue to be handed out between them.

“Messi, for example, is the only player capable of changing the course of a match. I have seen it in Spain and also with Argentina, against Ecuador for example.”

Messi and Argentina are set to open their 2018 World Cup campaign against Iceland on June 16 before going on to face Croatia and Nigeria in their other Group D fixtures.

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