Sampaoli wants strong Messi-Dybala partnership

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Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli hopes he can create a lethal partnership between Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala.

Injuries and suspensions have meant Messi and Dybala have started together just once for Argentina in 2018 World Cup qualifying, the Juventus star sent off in the first half of a 1-0 win over Uruguay in September last year.

Dybala, 23, has often been compared to the Barcelona great, particularly after a fine campaign in which he has helped Juve to another Serie A title and the Champions League final.

Sampaoli, unveiled as coach on Thursday and with Argentina struggling in qualifying, said he wanted the pair to work together.

"Dybala has a high level and what stands out is his inventiveness," he told a news conference.

"It would be good for him to be complementary with Messi."

Another change Sampaoli plans involves Javier Mascherano, who has featured in midfield for the national team despite playing as a defender for Barcelona.

The former Chile and Sevilla coach said he wanted the 32-year-old in the same role he had with the LaLiga giants.

"To Mascherano, we have intentions that he plays central defender, like with Barcelona," Sampaoli said.

Argentina are fifth - the play-off spot - in qualifying after winning just six of 14 games.

But Sampaoli believes in their chances of reaching Russia 2018, saying: "We are convinced that we have the resources to qualify."