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Lionel Messi sorry for thinking fellow Argentine player was a supporter

In an interview with ESPN's Diego Monroig, Lionel Messi hits back at claims he makes the decisions for Argentina.
Lionel Messi speaks exclusively to ESPN about his future with Argentina leading up to, and after, the World Cup in Russia.
Lionel Messi reacts after watching a video filled with messages of support and admiration from youth players in Argentina.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has apologised to compatriot Sebastian Driussi for mistaking him for a fan and not recognising the Zenit St Petersburg striker when having a photograph taken with him.

Messi is currently on international duty in Moscow ahead of Saturday's friendly against 2018 World Cup hosts Russia.

Driussi recently paid a visit to the Argentina squad in their hotel in the Russian capital and greeted some of the Albiceleste players, including Messi.

The Barcelona star was happy to pose with the 21-year-old for a snap following Driussi's request, but admitted he was disappointed with himself not to have identified a player he knows.

Messi only realised his error when Driussi posted the photograph on his Instagram account with a message that read: "Thanks for the photo IDOL Leo Messi."

Gracias por la foto IDOLO👏🏻 @leomessi

A post shared by Sebastian Driussi 🇦🇷 (@sebadriussi.11) on

The 30-year-old Messi issued an apology to Driussi and told Fox Sport Argentina: "I felt bad for not having recognised him at the time because I do know him. I know who he is. When he asked me for the photograph I thought he was one of the guys that are always waiting for a photograph.

"When I saw the photograph on Instagram I apologised to him. We had exchanged messages in the past via someone else and we share the same tattoo artist."

Messi came to the rescue of his national team by scoring a hat trick in last month's 3-1 win at Ecuador that earned Argentina a spot in next summer's World Cup.

Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria says his national team have relied heavily on Messi, who was the Albiceleste's top scorer in qualifying with seven goals in 10 games.

Di Maria believes that pressure comes at a price for the Barcelona star and that he and his other Argentina teammates have to step up and match Messi's quality if they are to go for glory at next year's World Cup.

"If we don't help him, it's difficult that Leo can solve everything," Di Maria told Fox Sports Argentina. "At times, they [media] only talk about Leo and I think he feels the pressure."

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi will lead Argentina at next year's World Cup.

Di Maria admits he does not know if he will be included in Jorge Sampaoli's final squad for the World Cup after losing his place in Unai Emery's regular Paris Saint-Germain starting XI this season.

"The doubts are always there on whether or not I will be at the World Cup," the 29-year-old said. "I hope so. I know this [the World Cup] is the last opportunity for me in the national team.

"Each time I come here I try to add, to give everything to prove that I want to be here and go to the World Cup. To wear the Argentina jersey is the best possible feeling. All I can do is give my best to make the decision easier for the coach."

Regarding his lack of playing time at PSG, Di Maria said it will be difficult for him to regain his starting spot. The arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe this summer have seen him often relegated to the bench.

"I spoke to Emery and I knew I would face competition to play," Di Maria said. "I came close to leaving this summer but in the end, I respect the decision taken by the club not to sell me. I knew that even when giving my best, I would still have problems to earn a starting place.

"These are the decisions of the coach and I respect it. It's difficult to play when you bring top players but I've proved that I can also play at that level and that I can be a starter. I just have to prove it again when given the chance."

Di Maria has not ruled out a move away from PSG in the winter transfer window.

He said: "I think about the club but I also have to think about myself. I want to play and have minutes. This is a World Cup year and I want to be there."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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