Sampaoli won’t risk Messi and Dybala

Mbappe admits he wants ‘a new challenge elsewhere’ after winning Ligue 1 player of the year

Jorge Sampaoli has ruled out pairing Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala in the Argentine side for their crucial World Cup qualifier with Peru.

La Albiceleste are currently fifth in the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) qualifiers, with two games to play.

Failure to win in Buenos Aires on Friday, or against Ecuador on Wednesday could potentially see them fail to qualify for next year's showpiece in Russia, or at the very least advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.

Ahead of facing the fourth-placed Peru, Sampaoli explained that Messi and Dybala haven't worked together enough to be an effective pair.

He said: "As there is no time to work the Dybala-Messi relationship, we should go to something more concrete."

Dybala had previously said that he found it tough to play with Messi as they occupy similar positions on the pitch.

And commenting on the Juventus striker's comments, Sampaoli continued: "I don't see as something bad what Dybala said. He said that he was happy to play with Messi, but he just did not find his place.

"Leo [Messi] needs to move in the field normally as he does with his club. To invent a position so as he can develop a system or to structure him, that would be crazy.

"When we use 4-2-3-1 formation he is even further forward, always near the box. Being away from the box puts our best player far from the scoring positions and that is what he does best in his club.

"It is my job to make him understand that he is vital in the finishing, in the last third of the pitch."