‘He is the first to suffer’: Sergio Aguero leaps to the defence of Lionel Messi amid fierce criticism in Argentina for failing to replicate his incredible Barcelona success with national team
- Lionel Messi has won it all for La Liga giants Barcelona, including 10 La Liga titles
- However, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has yet to taste success with Argentina
- He continues to come in for criticism as an international honour still eludes him
- But Sergio Aguero has emphatically defended his Argentine compatriot
Sergio Aguero claims he does not understand why Lionel Messi receives criticism when playing for Argentina, insisting the Barcelona star is always the ‘first to suffer’.
Messi has won it all for Barcelona, including 10 La Liga titles, four Champions League’s, three FIFA Club World Cup’s and six Copa del Rey crowns, while also picking up a record-breaking six-Ballon d’Or awards.
However, an international honour with Argentina continues to elude the Barcelona icon after finishing runners-up at the 2014 World Cup, and placing second in back-to-back Copa America’s in 2015 and 2016 – with Messi missing a crucial penalty in the shootout in the latter final.
Barcelona icon Lionel Messi is still searching for his first international honour with Argentina
And following Argentina’s underwhelming last-16 exit to France at the 2018 World Cup, the 32-year-old decided to exclude himself from selection before returning ahead of their semi-final run at Copa America in 2019.
With Messi still searching to claim his first international trophy with Argentina, the forward continues to come in for criticism, and even insults, from fans and media in his homeland – but Manchester City striker Aguero has emphatically defended his compatriot.
‘I do not understand those who criticise him in the national team,’ Aguero told TyC Sports. ‘He is the first to suffer and continues to come.’
The criticism has sometimes taken its toll on Messi, who has previously fired back at those who have scrutinised his performances for Argentina, and his decision not to sing the national anthem.
Messi previously told TyC Sports: ‘I get annoyed when they tell us put in more effort, you don’t feel the shirt. We were lucky enough to get to the final of the World Cup and the Copa America and it seems like we didn’t do anything. We got to two finals, for f***’s sake. We didn’t win, what can you do, but we got to the final, we didn’t lose in the last-16.
‘Football is not just about effort. We had bad times in the national team for what we experienced. We lost the final of the World Cup against Germany who have great players and we had great chances to win it. With Chile it was the same and we lost on penalties.
‘I get annoyed by the people who attack you without thinking. I won’t sing the national anthem on purpose. I don’t need to sing it to feel it. It reaches me, every person feels it in their own way. The Pumas cry, they feel it differently and that’s ok.’
Messi has won it all for Barcelona, including four Champions League’s and 10 La Liga titles
During Argentina’s disappointing 2018 campaign, Messi was on the receiving end of some extremely harsh critics, claiming he had gone missing during the group stage, which they only scraped through from their final match.
Following the dismal 3-0 defeat by Croatia in the group stage, La Nacion reported: ‘Messi didn’t come to the rescue. His head of glass shattered into a thousand pieces.’
‘The captain was once more absent, he played badly, he looked spent and he left the field staring at the ground,’ said Olé. ‘He didn’t take charge of the team not before going 1-0 down nor after.
‘Exhausted, not finding his place on the field, searching for link-ups that weren’t there – Pavón and Dybala came on too late – lost in the field and only lit up by his green boots.’
Back at La Nacion, and they added: ‘It’s not Messi plus 10 anymore, it’s 11 minus Messi.
‘The first half an hour of the game made it clear that it’s not like the captain doesn’t want it, even if his body language in the remaining hour of the game did allow the question as to how much.’
Man City striker Sergio Aguero has leapt to the defence of Messi amid criticism for Argentina
Meanwhile after defending Messi, Aguero has spoken out about his own future, having been linked with a move to boyhood club Independiente with his City contract expiring in 2021.
But the striker, who is waiting to return to action following the coronavirus pandemic, claims he isn’t thinking about his future currently.
Aguero said: ‘For now, I’m not thinking about what to do. With all this, the clubs are having problems.
‘Up until next year, it can be extended for two months or more. There are players who end contracts this year and if it is played in July, August or September, the clubs are going to have problems.
‘I don’t know if they can renew with players for three months or six. The first thing is to end this season and hit everything next.’
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