Argentina legend Diego Maradona has claimed that the media are to blame for his criticism of Barcelona star Lionel Messi, insisting that the two have a great relationship.
Maradona previously told fans not to worship Messi anymore, before criticising the leadership and mentality of the Barcelona forward. He stated that Messi does not perform well enough for Argentina and should never have been given the captaincy of the international side.
However, Maradona has now blamed the media for twisting his words in their attempts to drive a wedge between the two Argentinian icons. DAZN journalist Juan G. Arango posted a quote from Maradona on Twitter, in which the former superstar attacked the media for trying to portray his quotes in a negative light.
He ended by admitting that Messi is the best player in the world, which echoes Barcelona's official statement about Maradona's comments. Barcelona claimed that Messi does not need to prove himself to anybody, as he has already done enough to be recognised as the finest player in the world.
Messi has found himself under intense pressure when it comes to his international career. He has long been compared to Maradona, who captained Argentina to glory at the 1986 World Cup. Messi's status as one of the world's best players is undeniable, yet many have claimed that he needed to replicate Maradona's success at the World Cup to prove himself.
After guiding Argentina to the final of the 2014 iteration of the tournament, it was widely speculated that this summer's World Cup would be his final chance to win the tournament.
However, Argentina fell at the hands of eventual winners France, leading Messi to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Argentina setup.
He has rejected the chance to represent his country ever since their elimination from the tournament, with many speculating that he will never wear the blue and white of Argentina again.