Lionel Messi “suffers a lot” with Argentina because society in the Barcelona star’s homeland “enjoys destroying things more than it enjoys success”, says Jorge Sampaoli.
Throughout his distinguished career, an all-time great has faced questions over his contribution at international level.
He has taken in 129 appearances for his country and recorded 65 goals, but is still waiting on a first senior honour.
Final heartache has been suffered at the World Cup and Copa America, with Messi unable to provide the required level of inspiration to drag others over the line.
Criticism has come his way as a result, with the 31-year-old conceding that some countrymen want to “kill” him, but Sampaoli believes expectations are far too high.
A coach who failed to end Messi’s barren run on the trophy front at the 2018 World Cup told a conference in Brazil when asked about a mercurial talent: “I coached the best player in the world, I don’t [know] if he’s the best in history, because he now has more than 600 goals in Europe, he’s broken all the records, but he arrives in his country and he’s criticised.
“Beyond his ability, he’s a human being, Argentinians struggle to enjoy Messi as Barcelona fans enjoy him.
“The boy suffers a lot, from what I’ve gone through, he suffers that reality a lot.
“He cannot show the world all that he is when plays for Argentina.
“[Argentine] society enjoys destroying things much more than it enjoys success.”
The Albiceleste were not expected to challenge for global honours on Russian soil last summer but disappointed before falling at the last-16 stage to eventual winners France.
Sampaoli was sacked on the back of another frustrating showing at a major tournament, with Lionel Scaloni having since taken the reins.
A former Chile and Sevilla boss is now back in club management at Santos and claims he was always destined to fail when taking charge of his demanding homeland.
Sampaoli said of his time with Argentina: “Being the coach of a South American national team is almost impossible because the best players in our teams are in Europe and we cannot speak to them for the necessary amount of time.
“We only have them for very little time to instil the values that we want and our playing philosophy.”
Messi took a break from international duty after the 2018 World Cup.
He made a brief return during the March internationals, before picking up a knock in a 3-1 defeat to Venezuela, but will be back for another shot at Copa America glory in Brazil this summer.