Former Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli believes Lionel Messi can still realise his dream of lifting the World Cup in 2022 if the country doesn’t veer from “the process.”
Sampaoli has spoken for the first time since being dismissed by the Argentina Football Association (AFA) after leading the Albiceleste to the Round of 16 at the tournament in Russia where eventual champions France beat them.
Asked if Messi, who will be 35 when the 2022 World Cup takes place in Qatar, can win the title, Sampaoli told Marca:
“Of course he can. But this needs a process, considering what has happened up to now.
“Processes don’t break, they are corrected. For the next World Cup or Copa America, there needs to be an organisation, unlimited confidence and know what the process requires. In other words, if the Copa America is not won, we need to maintain that process and not break it.
Enough of that madness where if you don’t win, you are a loser. It’s not like that, if you believe, then it’s possible even if it may happen later on. But you have to believe.”
Sampaoli said it was a privilege to coach the five-time Ballon d’Or winner even if it was only for 13 months.
“It was incredible,” Sampaoli said of Messi. “Especially seeing him so committed, suffering a lot when we didn’t win.
The best player in the history was very committed. Leo suffered like no one else, it was a big weight for him not to have been able to transcend as a team.”
The former Sevilla coach says coaching the Barcelona superstar is highly demanding.
“To have the best in the world in your team forces maximum exigency,” he said. “The rest of us have to be at his level. But at times you can and other times you cannot.
We had that battle every day. To have Leo forces you not to have a margin of error when it comes to winning.”