Buenos Aires: Argentine legend Diego Maradona feels Lionel Messi is not a leader and should not be considered a footballing god.
“We shouldn’t deify Messi any longer. He’s Messi when he plays for Barcelona. Messi is Messi when he wears that shirt, and he’s another Messi with Argentina,” he told Fox Sports.
“He’s a great player but he’s not a leader. It’s useless trying to make a leader out of a man who goes to the toilet 20 times before a game.”
Maradona, who along with Brazilian legend Pele, is widely considered to be among the best players of all time, coached the Argentine squad at the 2010 World Cup.
That Argentine team, who featured Messi as their main star, topped their group and beat Mexico 3-1 in the second round before being thrashed 4-0 by Germany in the quarter-finals.
Messi is yet to win any silverware for Argentina but has won every possible honour with his club FC Barcelona and is a five-time Fifa World Player of the Year.
Messi 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 — and has not scored in four World Cup knockout stages.
Maradona, who now coaches second-tier side Dorados in Mexico, added Messi’s break was sensible.
“I wouldn’t call him up right now, but never say never,” he said. “We have to take the pressure off him.”