Argentinean footballing icon Mario Kempes has insisted Lionel Messi cannot be compared to Diego Maradona despite leading the nation to Copa America glory last weekend.
Messi finally ended his international trophy drought claiming a long-awaited maiden Copa America triumph against Brazil, leaving the World Cup as the only major honour he is yet to win with his country. But Kempes has claimed that despite all his achievements, Messi will always remain in the shadow of the late Maradona.
"For Messi, the misfortune is that he was the replacement for Diego Maradona," Kempes, who won the World Cup in 1978, told ESPN. "And it is very difficult to overshadow Diego, with the idolatry that he has received around the world
"If [Messi] wants to be better than Maradona, he is not going to achieve it even if he wins four World Cups in a row. He still hasn't won the World Cup. No matter how many [titles he] wins or what he wins, it can never be compared to what Diego did."
Messi has constantly been compared to Maradona but has remained nothing but respectful for the former Boca Juniors forward. "Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona,” said Messi. “Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been.”
The Barcelona man dedicated Argentina's Copa America victory to Maradona, and said: "This is for all, and of course also for Diego, who surely was supporting us from wherever he is. In order to continue celebrating we have to continue taking care of ourselves.
"Let's not forget that there is still a long way to go to return to normality and I hope we can take advantage of this happiness to gain a little strength to fight the virus together."