Netherlands’ football legend Patrick Kluivert has stated that Barcelona star Lionel Messi makes up 50 per cent of the Argentine team.
Messi was instrumental in Argentina qualifying for this year’s World Cup as he netted a hat-trick in their decisive 3-1 away win against Ecuador which sealed qualification.
Argentina struggled throughout the qualifiers especially when their talismanic forward did not feature in some games which almost saw them miss out of the World Cup for the first time since Mexico 1970.
And ahead of this summer’s edition in Russia, Kluivert who was in the Netherlands side that got to the semi-final of the 1998 World Cup, said Argentina parade other top players but posited that Messi is the deciding factor for them.
“Messi is an important player, both for Barcelona and Argentina. I think he’s 50% of the national team,” Kluivert told Argentine national daily sports newspaper Ole. “I do not think it depends only on him, but on a good day he powers everything.
“Of course he is human and one day you can wake up not quite right. Then things can be complicated for Argentina.
“In qualifying, when he was not there, the team suffered. They did not have the brilliance and could not win the games that with Messi they would surely have won.”
Argentina will commence their campaign at this year’s World Cup against debutant Iceland in Group D on June 16.
They will also face Nigeria and Croatia in their other Group D games.