Lionel Messi is currently in Argentina for the international window as the 2022 FIFA World Cup champions play in Buenos Aires for the first time since lifting the trophy in Qatar.
In an interview with ESPN Argentina (h/t El Grafico), Vélez Sarsfield manager Ricardo Gareca spoke on several topics, the first being what the Paris Saint-Germain star means to the Argentina national team.
“Messi represents the same as Diego [Maradona],” Gareca said. “Everyone wanted to see him [as a] champion. Maradona and Messi have never been addicted; they have always rebelled. They give them freedom; they need the dribble.”
Furthermore, Gareca noted why many Argentinians have latched onto the team because they have identified certain qualities that they can relate to, thus growing a bond with the core players.
“People liked it; they felt identified; it’s the most difficult thing to achieve,” Gareca continued. “Beyond the fact that he came out world champion, it was an explosion.”
While Argentina was facing Panama in a friendly, the South American nation won 2-0 on Thursday at Estadio Monumental. However, the atmosphere was party-like as the match played a secondary role at the stadium.
Additionally, Messi scoring on a free-kick goal was the cherry on top of the festivities as the 35-year-old lifted the trophy in front of a ruckus crowd.