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Javier Mascherano defends national teammate from criticism: 'I couldn't be Messi'

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Contradicting some reports and speculations, Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is not taking a break from the Argentina national team, and the Albiceleste captain is already training with his international teammates for two friendlies in the United States, despite some heavy criticism from his country's media for his performances.

Messi has been accused of not doing his best or trying as hard as he does for the Catalan club, and the critics got even stronger after the Copa América loss to Chile last June. That led to many rumors suggesting that Messi was ready to stay at home and not defend his country for some time, but that never materialized, and he showed up for duty again.

That attitude and commitment has impressed some of Leo's teammates. The first to speak out was Carlos Tévez, and now Messi got another defense, this time from his Barça friend Javier Mascherano.

"All that’s happened, doesn’t favor Argentine football. Hopefully there’s a solution. The image that we’re giving isn’t good.

"Messi never hides and he always shows his face when he’s criticized.

"I couldn’t bear to be Messi. He always comes, including when he’s about to become a father.

"The Copa América? The criticisms hurt us but you have to learn to accept them.

"The reflection with Messi and everyone else is the same. We don’t commit a crime, we’re football players.

"Messi is still coming. His girlfriend is about to give birth. I couldn’t be him. You have to be special to be like Messi."

Source: Diario Sport

No surprise that Mascherano is taking Messi's side on this issue, since he does it all the time. But El Jefecito is a very respected man within the Argentine media, and that has to give the critics a chance to chill out and stop for a while.

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