Lionel Messi has defended Gonzalo Higuain, claiming the Juventus striker is one of the best in the world and deserves to be in the Argentina squad.
Higuain was left out of Jorge Sampaoli’s squad for Argentina’s final two World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Ecuador in October.
The Juventus striker had also missed Argentina’s previous two qualifiers, with the Albiceleste eventually booking their place in Russia with a 3-1 win in Ecuador in which Messi grabbed a hat-trick.
Sampaoli has a wealth of attacking options having called up Mauro Icardi, Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero alongside Messi last time out, but the Barcelona star feels Higuain is crucial to the national team.
“He is suffering for the national team, but he must be in it,” he told TyC Sports.
“For me he is one of the best number nines in the world. He demonstrates this every weekend at Juventus but does not play the same with Argentina
“The critics make him suffer, we have spoken about it many times.
“I believe that this period without the national team did him good. We spoke about it through messages, it was a good thing that he had this period of absence. But he must be in the squad.”
Higuain has nine goals and three assists in 13 Serie A starts for Juventus, who are in third place in the table in Italy, two points behind leaders Inter.