Scaloni on PSG jibe: We have right to pick Messi


Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni insists his national team has the right to call up Lionel Messi but “completely understands” Paris Saint-Germain‘s frustrations over the player’s busy calendar.

Messi missed PSG’s last two encounters, a 2-2 Champions League draw at RB Leipzig and a 3-2 league win at Bordeaux, due to knee and hamstring pains. PSG sporting director Leonardo was unhappy that Messi was named in Scaloni’s squad for Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers at Uruguay on Friday and against Brazil on Nov. 16 if the player “isn’t fit to play for us [PSG].”

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“We have a good rapport with [PSG sporting director] Leonardo,” Scaloni said on Thursday. “It’s understandable because of what has happened with the September, October, November FIFA windows as well as the Copa America. It’s completely understandable. He has been a lot with the national team. Nor can it be doubted that we have a right to call him up and that if he is available, he plays. Historically it was a problem for European clubs.”

Leonardo and Scaloni agree that this is a FIFA issue.

“It is an issue that must be resolved at calendar level,” Scaloni said. “It cannot be resolved by a national team. Leonardo’s were not good or bad remarks. He just said what was happening.”

Messi captained Argentina to Copa America glory in July. He has started in all five World Cup qualifiers since, scoring four goals for the Albiceleste.

Since his move to PSG from Barcelona on a free transfer, Messi has played only eight games in all competitions for PSG with his three goals coming in the Champions League.

Messi, 34, is expected to start in Friday’s World Cup qualifier at Uruguay.

“Messi is well, he has been working progressively and yesterday he intensified his training,” Scaloni said. “As it is right now, he is available and if he is well, you know what I think and how important he is for the team.

“This afternoon we will make a decision, but I reiterate that for the time being, he is well. Living with Leo is easy because he always wants to play and I also want him always to play. His attitude is worthy of pride.”

Should Messi not start against Uruguay in Montevideo, Scaloni says that Juventus forward Paulo Dybala or Inter Milan’s Joaquin Correa could replace the PSG star.

Argentina are second in the standings with 25 points after 11 games played, six points adrift of Tuesday’s rivals Brazil, who lead the standings.

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