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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019

Maradona was caught telling Pele that Messi's no leader... but El Diego says it wasn't criticism

That’s some three ball.

Argentina star Lionel Messi
Argentina star Lionel Messi
Image: Jonathan Daniel

ARGENTINA GREAT Diego Maradona stood by his questioning of Lionel Messi, but insists it was not meant as a criticism.

Maradona was caught telling Pele that national team captain Messi had “no personality” and lacked the character to be a leader.

Messi responded to the criticism by coming off the bench and scoring a hat-trick in his side’s 5-0 win over Panama at the Copa America Centenario on Friday.

Despite that, the 1986 World Cup winner said he still felt the same – but it was no criticism of Messi.

“I still think the same thing I told Pele,” Maradona told Diario Popular. ”But I do not want it to look like a criticism. It is not so.

“The boy [Messi] they want as a leader and leaders are made alone.”

Maradona believes the captaincy could be weighing Messi down, saying: “If you demand Leo plays with his right [leg], he will play poorly. You have to let him play.”

Argentina have booked their spot in the Copa America Centenario quarter-finals and face Bolivia on Tuesday.

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