Lionel Messi bogged down by “emotional fatigue” combining playing for Argentina and Barcelona, according to technical director Cesar Luis Menotti.
Messi is back in the Argentina squad for the first time since the World Cup, but Menotti cast doubt on whether the Barcelona forward, in red-hot form this season, would make his return during the international break despite head coach Lionel Scaloni’s insistence he would win his 129th cap.
According to Menotti, he said: “It scares me that Messi plays, I see him emotionally fatigued between the Champions League and the national team.
I see him very tired; he has a lot of obligations and with a lot of emotional baggage, a lot of responsibilities at his feet.”
The former West Ham loanee took over as Argentina boss after their disappointing World Cup campaign but is only contracted until June.
He said: “It is a joy that Messi returns, I have to try to have the team accompany him and ensure he has the best of himself, hopefully with the return of Messi the team will be strengthened.
“We hope Messi can bring the best out of his team-mates, we need them to give something extra so we can be a great team.
“We want them to realised that they are great players and that they need to step up so Argentina can return to the level that it once had in the past. It’s not Messi who has to step up.”