The forward has finally won a major international honor with the Copa America, but an Albiceleste hero feels he is still behind his deceased compatriot
Lionel Messi will never be able to improve Diego Maradona “even if he wins four World Cups in a row”, according to Argentine legend Mario Kempes.
The forward finally ended his international drought with the Albiceleste after inviting a long-awaited Copa America victory against Brazil on Saturday.
This leaves the World Cup as the only honor the 34-year-old still has to collect for club – at Barcelona – and country, but now Kempes has claimed that he, all his achievements, always in the shadow of his late compatriot, a cultural icon in his homeland and around the world.
What was said?
“For Messi, the misfortune is that he was the replacement for Diego Maradona,” said Kempes, who won the 1978 World Cup. ESPN . ‘And it’s very difficult to overshadow Diego with the idolatry he has received around the world
“As [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 has not won the World Cup. No matter how much [titles he] wins or what he wins, it can never be compared to what Diego did. ‘
Copa celebrates the ARCH debate
Messi’s success over the weekend has further intensified the debate over whether he can be considered the greatest modern footballer of all time and whether Cristiano Ronaldo – who is enjoying national success with Portugal at Euro 2016 – is his equal or superior.
The former has now won 34 major honors at club level – including the Copa del Rey last season under Ronald Koeman – but apart from a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he only won silverware with his country this month.
His pick in terms of pure trophies is much more than that of Maradona, who passed away last year at the age of 60 – but the latter’s World Cup triumph, combined with his greater personality on and off the field, means he has another way to achieve the same status, at least in Kempes’ eyes.
The bigger picture
After concluding his international connections with Lionel Scaloni’s team, Messi will now reflect on his future over the expiry of his contract at Barcelona last month.
A long-running transfer saga last year was a departure before the 2021-22 campaign, but a change of leadership at Camp Nou apparently convinced the striker to renew at the only club for which he ever played senior football.
However, the financial situation of the Blaugrana means that the finer details of a new agreement – and when it can be announced – remain in the air and make the free agent available to follow other paths with other suitors should he prefer.