The Barcelona star weighed in on the national team’s past and present ahead of the Copa America

Lionel Messi says he doesn’t believe that Argentina have ever been overly dependent on his contributions as he said the team is currently “on the right track” ahead of the Copa America.

Messi has long been one of the best players in the world but, despite incredible success on the club level and on a personal level, international trophies have eluded him with Argentina.

He’ll have a chance to remedy that once again this summer at the Copa America but, after years of critiques saying that Argentina rely on Messi too much, the man himself says he doesn’t believe that has ever been the case.

What did Messi say?

“At no time did the national team depend on me,” Messi told Ole. “We always try to have a strong group. We always said that if we are not a strong team, winning and achieving our objectives would be difficult. 

“I think we became strong as a group. Most of the players have been working together for a long time. We have already have played in a Copa America, so we have the experience that having played it gives you. We are still in training and I think we are on the right track.”

He added: “It’s special, everything that I play with the national team is always special, be it friendlies, qualifiers, Copas America, World Cup … I never imagined playing so many games. I didn’t even think about it. I just lived from day to day and tried to always be present and always give my best.”

‘We need a victory’

Argentina open their tournament run on Monday with a match against a familiar foe in Chile, who famously defeated Messi and Co. in the tournament finale in 2015 and 2016.

Despite the relatively forgiving group stage format where only two of the tournament’s 10 teams will be eliminated, Messi says it is important to start on the right foot.

“We need an important victory,” he said. “We have been doing things well, growing, but we need to win the first game. It is important to start with the three points, it gives you peace of mind for what is coming. 

“We know that it will be difficult. We are playing against Chile again. We know each other a lot and they are a tough opponent that we are going to meet..”

Messi weighs in on coronavirus risk

Even before kicking off, the tournament has been shrouded in controversy amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Originally set to be held in Argentina and Colombia, the Copa America was moved to Brazil due to coronavirus concerns and government protests, even through the new hosts have had Covid issues of their own in recent weeks.

Messi admitted that he is worried about the risk of catching the virus but says there’s little players can do to control the situation.

“All of us are at risk of catching Covid. We are worried about it, we have to take care of ourselves and do everything we’re told,” He said. “

“We’ll be taking on other teams, there is also the risk of infection. We’ll do whatever possible to make sure it doesn’t happen but a lot of the time it’s not up to us. It can happen.”

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