Lionel Messi not only had to show he was the best player for Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but the 35-year-old also had to show his leadership when adversity hit the squad.
The Paris Saint-Germain star had to be there for striker Lautaro Martínez, who recounted a frank talk he had with the veteran during the Qatar 2022 World Cup that made him “not think” about him “but about the group.”
“At one point, he approached me and told me to try to heal myself well, that they needed me well and that it was very important for the group and for the team,” Martinez told ESPN (h/t a24).
LAUTARO MARTÍNEZ REVELÓ SU CHARLA CON LIONEL MESSI EN EL MUNDIAL 💬
🎙️ “En un momento se acercó y me dijo que me trate de curar bien, que me necesitaban bien y que era muy importante para el grupo y para el equipo", contó el delantero del Inter.
🎙️ ESPN pic.twitter.com/7PlTdQrV0Y
— TyC Sports (@TyCSports) February 10, 2023
Martinez did not have the minutes he wanted during the World Cup due to an injury, and then the rise of Julian Alvarez also limited his time out on the pitch. Nonetheless, the Inter Milan star revealed that the conversation with Messi made him think differently.
“That was when I said that perhaps it was not thinking about me but about the group,” Martinez continued. “That was when I said that perhaps it was not thinking about me but about the group.”
Argentina would go on to win the 2022 FIFA World Cup beating France in penalty kicks (2-2), so perhaps that conversation off the pitch played a role in ensuring there was player unity on the squad.