A Barcelona spokesman has hit back at Diego Maradona's criticism of Lionel Messi, insisting that the 31-year-old does not need to prove himself to anybody.
The Barcelona superstar has captained Argentina since 2011, but Maradona claimed that Messi should not be the country's skipper as he lacks the required leadership skills. Messi led his side during their disappointing 2018 World Cup campaign, but has not featured for his country since their elimination from the tournament, after stating he did not want to be considered for selection.
"We have a person who qualifies himself to himself from silence and discretion.
"[Messi] is the best player of all time without any doubt and he does his talking on the pitch."
Lionel Messi made his @FCBarcelona debut 14 years ago today - came on as sub in 1-0 win at Espanyol (Oct 16 2004)— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) October 16, 2018
22 Major honours
5 World Player of the Years
40+ goals in each of last 9 seasons - a Spanish record pic.twitter.com/rlLrBRikQ7
Since making his debut for Argentina as an 18-year-old in 2005, Messi has made 128 appearances for his country and netted 65 goals. Since then, he has emerged as one of the finest players in the history of football, with many claiming that he needed to guide Argentina to World Cup glory to truly cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time.
Maradona, who himself is viewed as one of football's best ever players, captained Argentina as they won the 1986 World Cup. Maradona's success has often been compared to that of Messi, but the latter has failed to replicate Maradona's international glory.
Argentina did manage to reach the final of the 2014 World Cup, but ultimately fell to a 1-0 defeat after Mario Gotze netted a memorable winner in extra time. Many believed that this summer's tournament would be Messi's last, as he will be 35 when the 2022 World Cup begins.