'Those who don't love Messi know nothing' - Tevez

Argentina's Carlos Tevez has launched a passionate defence of team-mate Lionel Messi ahead of their Copa American opener.

Carlos Tevez says Lionel Messi has the support of the Argentinean people going into the Copa America and suggested any detractors should be ignored.

In the past, four-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has been the subject of apathy from some in his home country thanks in part to leaving Argentina for Barcelona at a young age while also having struggled to replicate his form consistently with the national team.

In contrast, Tevez - who ended a three-year Argentina exile in November - is considered a 'player of the people'.

However, the Juventus striker defended Messi ahead of Argentina's Copa America's opener against Paraguay, telling the competition's official website: "I believe the people do love [Messi] because he’s Argentine and because he's the best in the world.

"He who doesn't love Messi knows nothing about football or about life. More than that, I don't know what’s going on in their heads.

"Messi is still the same. What has changed is that he has three or four kilos less than before. That means he has more desire, it changes your state of mind, it changes everything. 

"I believe he is in his best moment."

Tevez was frozen out of the national set-up by Gerardo Martino's predecessor Alejandro Sabella, with some reports suggesting it was because of a fractious relationship between the Juve man and Messi.

Those suggestions were previously denied by the Barca star, with Tevez explaining:  "I missed the dressing room. I missed the guys. I missed this atmosphere.

"I'm 31 now, not 20 any more like I was before. Before I speak, I think about things. Before I spoke without knowing. That has made me more mature.

"You have to be intelligent when you get something wrong and try to always learn when you make a mistake. It's not good to make the same mistake twice and not learn."