Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli believes that Lionel Messi is now able to 'carry the team on his shoulders' as they head into the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Speaking at a press conference in Manchester, Sampoli said of Messi: “This is going to be his team. He is the best of all and is in a stage of maturity that can he can carry the team on his shoulders. This is going to be his team.
“Everyone gives us a leading role in the World Cup and my obligation is to increase that, to try to make the rivals fear us even more, today Argentina is very respected,” he said.
"I see that the commitment of the players improves all the time, also the commitment for the idea, the players know they have to attack.”
The Argentina manager also spoke of his desire to have Sergio Agüero fit and available for the World Cup, adding that he has a good on-field partnership with Lionel Messi.
"For Agüero this is a great moment - although the best Aguero was the one at Independiente," Sampaoli said.
"Messi and Agüero can complement each other very well.
"We've been talking to the doctors here at Manchester City and trying to evaluate his situation to see if he can play any part. It looks like he'll be sitting out the first one and we'll see about the second one.
"It will be hard for Agüero to play against Spain but we want to try. It's worth the effort. We've spoken to City about him - if there is a substantial improvement he could travel to Madrid and play. But it is difficult because of the little time left."
Argentina face Italy at the Etihad Stadium on Friday, before travelling to Spain for a second World Cup warm up fixture.