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GC Posted On: Jun 03, 2017

New Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli says getting the best out of Lionel Messi and reaching the 2018 World Cup are his greatest challenges in the role.

Sampaoli, 57, has taken over as coach of his home country after leaving Spanish club Sevilla after one season.

Barcelona forward Messi, 29, announced his retirement from international football in June 2016 before reversing his decision two months later.

“I spoke with Leo and we’re both excited,” said Sampaoli.

“It’s a boost for us to see how excited he is with this new stage [for Argentina].”

Messi has scored 58 goals in 117 appearances for Argentina yet the 1978 and 1986 world champions currently sit outside an automatic qualifying spot for next year’s World Cup in Russia after six wins in 14 qualifying games.

Their last four qualifiers are against Uruguay (away) on 31 August, Venezuela (home) on 5 September, Peru (home) on 5 October and Ecuador (away) on 10 October.

“The South American qualifiers are very complicated. There are some very good teams trying to do the same thing as us,” added Sampaoli, who has signed a deal until the 2022 World Cup.

Argentina sacked Edgardo Bauza in April after eight matches as coach.

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