I would tell Messi not to come back to the national team, says Maradona

Argentina legend Diego Maradona has advised Lionel Messi to make his retirement from international football permanent as the uncertainty continues over the star’s future with the Albiceleste.

Messi and Argentina suffered a mediocre World Cup campaign, crashing out in the last-16 after a tournament plagued with internal conflicts and sub-standard performances. 

The exit cost coach Jorge Sampaoli his job, while Messi has not been included in the two squads subsequently selected by interim boss Lionel Scaloni. 

And while the Barcelona star has refused to confirm his international future, his former Argentina boss believes he should not return. 

“What would I tell Messi? To not come back any more. To retire,” the current Dorados coach told Clarin on Sunday. 

“The Under-15s lose and it is Messi’s fault, the fixture list in Argentina puts Racing against Boca and Messi is to blame. He is always to blame. Stop breaking my balls. 

“I would tell him: ‘don’t go anymore, man’. Let’s see if they can handle that. Let’s see if they’re really big men.

“I would have liked to see him tell us all to f**k off. Because he is not to blame for us not being world champions. Fine, we all placed our hopes in him, but when you go to the racetrack you hope your horse wins and he comes in eighth. 

“In Formula One Vettel has a great engine and Hamilton beats him. Right now the national team doesn’t do anything for me or for the people. We have lost that. The passion. It cannot play against Nicaragua or Malta, no, brother. We are throwing all the prestige we earned down the toilet.”

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When questioned over who he would like to see succeed Sampaoli, Maradona backed 1978 World Cup winner Cesar Luis Menotti, now 79 years old. 

And he was particularly scathing when asked about Scaloni’s decision to leave the No. 10 jersey vacant while Messi weighs up his future. 

“[Scaloni] is an idiot. He seems like an idiot. Because if I went and gave the 10 to Messi, Messi should give it to the next 10. It’s ridiculous, it gets me angry,” he fired. 

“Scaloni is a great kid but he can’t even manage traffic. How can we give the national team to Scaloni?! With everyone who has passed through that team, who got their teeth and heads broken, you’re going to put Scaloni in?

“Now Scaloni says ‘I am prepared’. I’ve never even seen you score for Argentina. No offence. As a person, let’s go and share a barbecue. But as a coach and in the national team, no.”

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Klopp: Of course struggling Salah isn’t happy

Jurgen Klopp says Mohamed Salah is not happy with his early season performances after being hauled off in Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

The Egyptian forward has three goals to his name so far this season, with many fans questioning whether he will be able to replicate the numbers he achieved in his record-breaking debut season with the club.

His latest showing saw him miss a number of chances for the Reds at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with last season’s PFA Player of the Year visibly frustrated by his form in front of goal.

Salah, 26, was withdrawn in the 66th minute, with Xherdan Shaqiri coming on to replace him.

Klopp has admitted that Salah is not happy with his level of performance at present but is in no doubt that he will soon be back to his best.

“Of course not. How could he be? It’s a normal situation,” Klopp told reporters when asked if the Liverpool forward was happy with his early season form.

“But now that’s what you have a manager for. We will talk about it.

“It’s easy for me because I don’t read what you write, maybe the boys do a bit more but that doesn’t make too much sense at the moment because you will all dissect (the issue) – a big nice cut and you will find pretty much nothing.

“That’s how it is, no problem whatsoever. It’s all fine. As long as he is working like he works and gets into the situations that he gets in, I’m completely fine and everything will be okay.”

The Reds went on to snatch a late point against Maurizio Sarri’s side, with Daniel Sturridge netting a sublime goal to ensure the game finished all square.

Klopp’s side will now travel to Italy to take on Napoli in their second Champions League tie of the season, before facing Premier League leaders Manchester City in their final game before the latest international break on Sunday.

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Gattuso asks for time after confidence-boosting AC Milan win

Gennaro Gattuso believes AC Milan only need time to turn around a poor start to the Serie A season after a 4-1 victory at Sassuolo boosted his chances of keeping his job.

Milan had drawn their last three league games, piling pressure on Gattuso ahead of Sunday’s trip to the MAPEI Stadium, where Sassuolo had a 100 per cent record this term.

But despite striker Gonzalo Higuain missing out through injury and Gattuso having to name Samu Castillejo as a makeshift centre-forward, Milan eased to victory.

Franck Kessie’s superb 20-yard drive after the midfielder’s powerful run from his own half got the Rossoneri up and running before Suso’s curler doubled their lead.

After Castillejo struck a beauty, Filip Djuricic replied for the hosts before Suso added his second with the last kick of the game to secure a much-needed three points to move Milan into the top half of the table.

And with Gattuso able to celebrate a first away win since April in front of watching sporting director Leonardo – who is reportedly considering bringing in Antonio Conte – the coach felt vindicated, despite his side again failing to keep a clean sheet.

“At the moment, our defensive movements aren’t as good and it’s not just about the defenders, but the protective shield and going too deep. That is our weakness,” Gattuso said to Sky Sport Italia.

“We don’t press the opposition on the edge of the area, we just sit back as a shield and don’t move towards them. We had four or five through balls that caused us a lot of problems, but we know that is something we have to improve. The team does many good things and this result can help us gain confidence in everything we’re working on.

“When you wear the Milan jersey and work at a glorious club like this, which wants to get back to the top, there is pressure. People aren’t so much interested in performances as results and the table, but I knew this team had promise and just needed some time to grow.”

Suso marked his 100th Serie A appearance with his first goals since February and Gattuso suggested the 24-year-old could take inspiration from Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne by becoming a greater threat in front of goal while also focusing on providing chances for Higuain.

“In order to complete his development, Suso has to get to know Higuain better and provide the kind of service he did last week,” Gattuso added.

“If he cuts inside slightly less, he can be like Lorenzo Insigne at Napoli. Suso can score goals, because he has that in his locker, but above all he can create many goals for others like Higuain.”

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Ayew and Co. charged to relieve Zaha of Crystal Palace goalscoring burden

Ahead of Monday night outing against Bournemouth, Roy Hodgson has charged his other attacking options, including summer recruit Jordan Ayew to ease Crystal Palace’s goalscoring burden on Wilfried Zaha.

As regards the Eagles’ output in the final third, the forward has had to shoulder the ‘lion’s share’, scoring three of their four goals in the Premier League.

With the misfiring Christian Benteke out, Ayew – yet to open his account since his deadline day loan move from Swansea City – is set for another start against the Cherries.

Winger Andros Townsend is another player the former England coach will be looking forward to after his midweek heroics against West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup where he grabbed a brace.

And with Palace not lacking in chances created, Hodgson has urged his out-of-sorts attackers to be persistent in their approach.

“Wilf’s got the lion’s share because we haven’t scored many,” Hodgson said.

“But we have created many chances. So it forces one to consistently look back to the misses and the missed opportunities because in the bulk of the games we have played, we had that many chances. It’s harrowing to come off the field at 0-0 when you have seen that many chances.

“I believe as long as you are creating those chances and you are getting in those positions the goals will come.

“What you do is make certain the players believe in themselves, they keep working at their game, and they share your belief that if you keep doing this then we will score goals.”

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Gaetan Bong hails Brighton & Hove Albion’s organisation in Manchester City loss

Gaetan Bong has hailed Huddersfield Town’s defensive display against Manchester City in Saturday’s Premier League meeting at the Etihad, despite the obvious gulf in quality within both sides.

Despite creating numerous chances, Pep Guardiola’s side had to make do with goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero as the Seagulls were quite sturdy in their rearguard.

“We know we’re good on the counter-attack, and we wanted to stay in the game and slowly open up,” Bong said.

“We did that, and although we didn’t get the result we wanted, some teams have come and lost by more and we just have focus on the next game now.

“This is a tough place to go for all Premier League teams, even the top ones. We knew it would be hard to take points here, but we’re here to play our football and to learn from our defeats. We have to keep going.

“We started well, we were in the game and caused them a few problems, but they have quality players.

“We lost the ball on the counter-attack for the first goal and we had to stay focused to stay in the game.

“It was always going to be tough, but we kept our shape and tried to stay compact on the counter-attack. It’s never going to be easy to anything here, and we have to learn from this loss.”

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