Former Argentine striker Mario Kempes decided to rain on the Lionel Messi parade following the 34-year-old winning the Copa America with Argentina.
The world champion with Argentina in 1978 came in firing with his words for Argentina national team’s No. 10 and warned that he would never reach Diego Maradona. In dialogue with ESPN Mexico (via Marca), Kempes was blunt with his unexpected criticism.
“For Messi, the misfortune is that he was the replacement for Diego Maradona. And Diego, with the idolatry that he has carried around the world, it is very difficult to overshadow him,” Kempes said.
Perhaps Messi isn’t trying to be the next Maradona or looking to surpass the country’s idol. It seems as though these comments come off as someone who feels he needs to defend the former Argentine player as the comparisons between Messi and Maradona have surfaced.
Kempes states that even if Messi wanted to reach the status of Maradona, it wouldn’t be possible. Kempes says that the 34-year-old could have four Copa America wins in a row; the World Cup separates the two players. Furthermore, the ex-striker states that comparing the two is a waste of time.
“If [Messi] wants to be better than Maradona, he is not going to achieve it even if he wins four world championships in a row … He still does not have the title of world champion. The World Cup does not have it,” Kempe said. “No matter how much he wins what he wins, it can never be compared to what Diego did.”