Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has the talent and maturity to carry Argentina’s hopes of a successful World Cup campaign this year, the national team’s manager Jorge Sampaoli has said.

Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has led Barcelona to 30 domestic and European trophies during a stellar career but is yet to win a major trophy with the national team, apart from a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.

Argentina finished runners-up to Germany at the 2014 World Cup and to Chile at the 2015 and 2016 Copa America tournaments, and Sampaoli believes that Messi can help the team go one step further and end their trophy drought in Russia.

“This is going to be his team,” Sampaoli told a news conference on Thursday. “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.”

Messi, who is the all-time top goal-scorer for both club and country, initially announced his retirement from international football after the loss to Chile in 2016 but the 30-year-old has since reversed his decision.

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