Argentina will always be 'Messi-dependent' - Sergio Romero
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero says the national team will always be dependent on Lionel Messi.
Argentina did not book their spot in next year's World Cup until their final qualifier, a 3-1 win at Ecuador on Oct. 10, when captain Messi scored a hat trick.
The Albiceleste went into that game in danger of missing out not only on direct qualification but a spot in the playoffs.
While the performance again underlined Messi's importance to his national team, several Argentina greats, including Diego Maradona and Mario Kempes, have said the Albiceleste rely too much on their superstar and warn that must change if the country is to have any success at next year's tournament in Russia.
However, Manchester United goalkeeper Romero told TyC Sports: "We are going to be Messi-dependent all of our lives because he is the best and we know that at any time he can win us a game.
"It was clear and evident that without him [when Messi was suspended or injured in qualifying], we struggled. Perhaps we haven't been able to put all the pieces together as we should have.
"I don't mind they criticise us for playing badly. We accept it."
Argentina have yet to find their best form under coach Jorge Sampaoli, who replaced sacked Edgardo Bauza in May.
"We are trying to get things to work since Jorge's arrival," Romero said. "We know what the coach wants and we know what we want, we just have to make the right moves on the pitch."
Argentina will take on Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria in Group D at the World Cup.
Maradona expressed reservations about the country's prospects following Friday's draw and said Argentina could not be playing "any worse than they are" under coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Romero, who earned a regular starting place for Argentina under Maradona, said: "I have great appreciation for him because he was the one that gave me regular playing time in the national team.
"We know Diego's personality and the way he is. At times it can be hurtful but the best thing about him is that he is direct.
"Besides what he says, we are the first that want to improve and win. We know that if we think that we are already there, we are on the wrong path."
Argentina and five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi have lost three straight finals at major competitions in a three-year span, with the first coming at the 2014 World Cup against Germany.
"Unfortunately, we haven't been able to win a title," Romero said. "A lot of things have happened in the last four years that have affected us. The important thing is that we get to the World Cup in the best possible way to be in top form for our first game."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.