Tuesday October 31 2017
Maradona attacks Icardi, Sampaoli

Diego Maradona claims Inter captain Mauro Icardi only got into the Argentina squad because of his wife, Wanda.

The Napoli legend turned 57 yesterday, and has spoken to Clarin in typically forthright terms about the Albiceleste.

“I won’t talk about the national team,” Maradona said.

“I was lucky enough to see Leo [Messi] at FIFA’s The Best Awards and he was splendid, very well, and accompanied by his pregnant wife.

“What I’ve never liked though is those who try to sell me smoke. I remember when I was in Croatia watching the Davis Cup final, [Jorge] Sampaoli called me to talk about doing a project at Sevilla together.

“Then once he was called to lead the national team he didn’t even remember my name.

“I’d never have worked with those who are fake, mediocre and think they are bigger than they are. I don’t agree with him, nor with [President of the Argentinian FA Claudio] Tapia.

“He promised me one thing and then did another. The best leader we have is [Boca Juniors President Daniel] Angelici, and I’d call Marcello Tinelli.

“When I was there they’d bring me 14 guys to lead the team, I’d ask: ‘is this a water polo squad?’.

“I’ve been in FIFA, and I know they turn a blind eye to a lot of ugly things. I’m more Argentine than anyone, and I’m not going to go against my country.

“But they threatened me for reporting certain people, and more than one told me that they were going to kill me. I’m not afraid though.

“The AFA is less corrupt now than it was, but you can’t pay a national team Coach $4.5m! We pay that to a Coach who can’t guarantee he’ll make us champions of the world.

“He [Sampaoli] brought a sorcerer to Ecuador, which is as bad as calling an injured Icardi when you leave out [Juventus striker Gonzalo] Higuain, who has always scored goals. He [Icardi] didn’t play, granted, but he was there.

“You can’t leave Kun [Sergio] Aguero out of the first list and call this Pata de lana [someone who steals his friend’s wife].

“The one with the woman who wants to get involved in football and be his agent, the one who plays ball with Maxi Lopez’s children. I know the story well.

“She [Wanda] called [Edgardo] Bauza three times, the other [presumably Gerardi Martino] four. The Coaches themselves, or their assistants told me this.

“I don’t know how many times Wanda Nara called Sampaoli. It’s filthy, because there’s also the ‘player, president and entrepreneur’ named Juan Sebastian Veron, the one who did the first call-ups for Sampaoli.

“I’ve talked about this with [FIFA President Gianni] Infantino and I’m going to do it again, because Argentinian football is a powder keg.

“We aren’t doing things right, in the Under-15s, the Under-20s or anywhere.”

Maradona was asked what he said to Messi at the FIFA ceremony.

“That I love him very much and that for me he is a great. You do not need to win a World Cup to be great. He already is.

“There’s not a player on the [Argentina team] who understands Messi, the closest thing is Kun. [Paulo] Dybala’s a great player, but he’s at another speed, on another wavelength.

“To play in the national team as in Italy, he has to demonstrate technique and not just athleticism.

“I’d play with Messi! It’s just a shame I’m 57 and I can’t. There’s no-one else though, because they’ve blacklisted Carlos Tevez and I don’t know why, because he’s a phenomenon.

“There’s no-one else after him. Before there were doubts over one or two players. Now you have Messi, and then what?”

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