Legendary Barcelona midfielder Xavi has claimed that former teammates Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi did not enjoy competing for Argentina.
According to the Spanish publication Marca, the World Cup winner attributed Argentina's failure to secure a major trophy in recent times partly to an absence of unity and also spoke of the aforementioned pair's lack of enthusiasm for the national team:
"When I was in Barcelona, I got the feeling that (Messi and Mascherano) did not enjoy playing with their national team.
"They would have to be more united in order to achieve an important trophy."
La Albiceleste have endured a tumultuous World Cup qualifying campaign and find themselves clinging onto a playoff position, with Chile a point behind them. But Xavi, who now turns out for Qatari club Al Sadd, fully expects Messi and the rest to be there in Russia next year.
"I can't imagine a World Cup without Messi. The South America qualifiers are like a European tournament, I am sure they will qualify and they will be one of the candidates to win the trophy."
Xavi commented on the criticism the Argentine players are subjected to as well: "In Argentina, the players who go to the national team are not valued.
"The qualifiers are terrible, I do not understand the criticism towards them."
He also discussed the simultaneous success of Barcelona and the Spanish national team in 2010: "Barcelona lent the idea of play to Spain", he iterated.
"The players' adaptation to the idea was fundamental."
On Argentina's chances of winning a major trophy in the future, like their Spanish counterparts, Xavi believes greater squad unity is needed, starting with Messi and Mascherano enjoying playing for their country.