MADRID (Reuters) - Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has said it is futile “trying to teach Lionel Messi anything” new with the forward set to return from injury to face Spain in a World Cup warm-up on Tuesday.
“You can’t teach him anything. He’s untouchable, you need to understand that and try to create situations in training that fit around him and from there pick a side with a view to that,” Sampaoli told a news conference on Monday.
“He’s the kind of player that comes around not so very often. He’s the best player in the world and we need to ensure that everything we do is geared towards him being comfortable. His (footballing) mind is much more developed than (the minds of) the rest of us.”
There had been doubts as to whether the Argentina captain would be available for selection after a muscle problem kept him out of Saturday’s 2-0 friendly win over Italy played at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium.
Sampaoli, however, said Barcelona’s Messi was raring to go although their West Ham United forward Manuel Lanzini, who scored Argentina’s second goal at the weekend, is doubtful.
“He (Messi) trained as normal today, with the group. He’s fine to play,” Sampaoli said. “If there was a risk, he’d have told us. In the last friendly he told us so.
“He trained yesterday and today and if he stays as he is there’ll be no worries about him playing.
“We’re keeping tabs on Lanzini to see if he’ll be fit to play. We’ll decide the starting eleven tomorrow night.”
Spain will host Argentina in the first international to be played at Atletico Madrid’s new Wanda Metropolitano stadium with both countries preparing for this year’s World Cup in Russia.
Editing by Ken Ferris