ARGENTINA

Kempes: "Messi will never be Maradona - even if he wins four World Cups"

Former player Mario Kempes didn't hold back in his criticism of Messi, who won the Copa América with Argentina at the weekend: "He can never be Diego..."

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Mario Kempes could not have been much more harsh in his appraisal of Leo Messi for ESPN Mexico. Despite Messi lifting the Copa América with Argentina at the weekend, and being one of the standout performers during the tournament, Kempes feels that comparisons with Diego Armando Maradona are way off the mark. The former player feels that the late Maradona, the ex-a legend for Napoli and Barcelona will always have the edge over Messi.

"Messi's great misfortune is that he came onto the scene immediately after Diego Armando Maradona. And Diego, a player who was idolised by everyone, is very difficult to eclipse. If Messi wants to be better than Maradona... He will never achieve that even if he wins four consecutive World Cups. He still has not been crown a world champions," Kempes told ESPN Mexico.

As far as Kempes is concerned, there is nothing that Messi can do to reach the level of Maradona, who passed away last year: "It doesn't matter how much he wins, or what he wins, he will never be able to be compared to what Diego did," El Matador added.

Messi absent in Copa América final

ESPN Mexico journalist Álvaro Morales was also critical of Messi's performance in the final against Brazil: "Once again, Messi disappeared. He was nowhere to be see at the Maracanã. Argentina should build a statue of Di María. That's why Messi shouldn't even be celebrating the trophy - he owes it all to his team mates because he did nothing. Even Cristiano, when he fell injured during the Euro 2016 final, was encouraging his team from the bench. Messi vanished. Cristiano is the best player in history. Messi doesn't feel the [Argentina] shirt, they want to make him the leader, but he can't pull it off," he explained. "I watched the final right from the first minute and he didn't make one key pass, he had no personality or character. You have to look at those things with Messi. Tell me what exactly did he do at the Maracanã?.