Diego Maradona has hit out at compatriot Lionel Messi, saying the forward is not a leader on the pitch and should not be considered a footballing god.
Maradona and Messi are seen Argentina’s two greatest footballers, with the former winning the World Cup with La Albiceleste in 1986 and the latter picking up five Ballon d’Or awards.
Former Argentina manager said as quoted by AS: “Messi is a great player but he doesn’t get it…don’t worship Messi anymore. Messi at Barcelona is one thing and with Argentina he is another one.”
Messi has long been criticised for failing to reproduce his Barcelona form when he’s on international duty and hasn’t played for Argentina since they exited the 2018 World Cup.
While appearing on ‘The Last Word Mexico’ television programme, Maradona launched into a tirade against the Barcelona man and slammed his leadership skills.
He added: “Before speaking to the manager, he will be on the PlayStation and then on the field, he asks to be and wants to be the leader.
“He is the best in the world along with Cristiano, (but) it’s useless to make a leader of a guy who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a game.”
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The reference was believed to be in connection with Messi’s extreme nerves before games that have seen him vomit ahead of some important matches.
Messi has claimed every possible honour with Barcelona but has been on the losing side in all four of his finals with Argentina – three in the Copa America and at the 2014 World Cup.
After another disappointing tournament in Russia this year, where Argentina failed to get past the last 16, Messi opted to take a sabbatical from international football. Maradona added that he wouldn’t recall Messi to the national team.
“I wouldn’t call Messi but never say never…you have to take the pressure off him in order to get the leader we want Messi to be, that he will not be. You say to Messi to ‘throw yourself in head first’ but he prefers to play video games.”
Argentina defeated Iraq 4-0 on Thursday with a new-look side. However, a sterner test will take place on Tuesday when they face Brazil in Saudi Arabia.