There is a growing speculation that Argentina‘s players, Lionel Messi specifically, is calling the shots in the team rather than the manager, but both Jorge Sampaoli and Diego Maradona have taken a stand against these assertions.
It was reported in the wake of Argentina’s 3-0 annihilation to Croatia that Jorge Sampaoli would give up his selection duties regarding the crunch clash against Nigeria, with the players seeking for him to be replaced with Jorge Burruchaga.
Jorge Sampaoli had to battle with further doubts about his power when it was asserted in the Argentine media that a touchline discussion with Lionel Messi amid Nigeria game included him asking Leo Messi if Sergio Aguero could come in, something the 58-year-old boss has now denied.
Argentina defeated Gernot Rohr‘s led Super Eagles 2-1 on account of Marcos Rojo’s 86th-minute crucial goal, setting up a last-16 clash with tournament favourite France.
Sampaoli has denied the growing speculations that Messi was making major decisions during the game, expressing that his discussions with Messi were not what they appeared to be.
I remember that point in time but everything I say to my players is personal and I will not divulge what was said.
But it’s not how you characterised it. We had several options in attack and I was just communicating to him that we’d be using one of the strategies that we’d rehearsed.”
Meanwhile, he lavish praise on Messi’s abilities and called on other players to try and emulate the Barcelona’s forward passion. “Leo has such clear vision when it comes to football that he allows us to see things that, sometimes, only a true genius sees.”
“It’s often difficult to be at the level of such a great player. He’s a shining light for us all, and we have to do our very best to all try to be at his level.
“I am sure France have their own plan to neutralise Leo, but we have our own plan to make his life easier – so let’s see who has the best luck executing their plan.”
Another man who has played down the claims of Sampaoli losing his authority as head coach is Argentinian legend, Diego Maradona.
“I don’t believe that’s possible,” he said when asked by ‘Marca’ about the rumours that the players are choosing the team. “If that happened, it’s better not to have a coach.”
“I think it’s outrageous, anyway. Not having a leader for certain things would not be good. Although you also have to rely on experienced players, even they need the coach to tell them something, to lead the way.”