Messi was part of the La Albiceleste team that were beaten finalists in Brazil, but the Barcelona star has largely struggled to hit the heights with his national side that he does with his club.
However, Sabella hailed the four-time Ballon d'Or winner for his efforts in South America.
"Messi is an example for the national team," Sabella told Radio La Red. "He put himself at the disposal of the tame and played in solidarity with his teammates.
"I commend Messi for the World Cup he had. He put the group first, before the individual, and he personally sacrificed himself for the benefit of the team."
Former Barca coach Gerardo Martino replaced Sabella after the World Cup.