Published On: Thu, Dec 7th, 2017

Messi backs Higuain for Argentina spot in 2018 World Cup

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Argentina captain Lionel Messi has called for Gonzalo Higuain‘s inclusion in the team that travels to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup next summer.

Higuain has been criticised for his inability to score for La Albiceleste in tournament finals, having flubbed key chances in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America tournaments. Furthermore, new head coach Jorge Sampaoli preferred to call Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi and Boca Juniors attacker Dario Benedetto in qualifying.

However, Messi told TyC Sports that he believes Higuain is “a fundamental player, he needs to be there,” as transcribed by ESPN FC.

Messi added: (He) is one of the best No. 9s in the world, he shows it every weekend at Juventus.”

The 29-year-old Bianconeri forward has started the season in strong form, scoring 11 goals and adding three assists in 20 appearances across Serie A and the Champions League.

Earning backing from Messi will certainly help Higuain’s cause, but the diminutive Barcelona star made clear in an interview with ESPN FC that, contrary to accusations, he and Javier Mascherano do not pick who gets called up to Argentina.

“It makes me angry that people say so many things so easily,” Messi said. “People say a lot of things without knowing. So, on one hand, it makes me angry. But I am used to all the ridiculous things they say not just about me, but about this group from the last few years, so I can live with it.”

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