Arguably one of the greatest players of all time, Lionel Messi has probably won everything there is in the world of football. From smashing goal-scoring records to winning coveted trophies, the Argentine has become one of the highly sought after players in club football. And, the fact that he has won the prestigious Ballon d'Or on a record-tying five occasions goes on to show how good he has been in the past decade.
But, despite shattering one record after another in club football, Messi's prolific career is often marred with his inability to win a prominent trophy with Argentina. The Barcelona talisman has often come close to bagging a trophy for his country, but somehow he has always found himself on the losing side - something that continues to dent his reputation as the GOAT.
The latest criticism for Messi came from his fellow countryman and footballing great Diego Maradona. The former Argentina footballer, who has shared a good rapport with Messi, hit out at the Barca forward while claiming that he is not a leader on the pitch and should not be considered a footballing God.
Highlighting Messi's contrasting fortunes with Barcelona and Argentina, Maradona claimed: "We shouldn't deify Messi any longer," Maradona said in an interview with Fox Sports. "He's Messi when he plays for Barcelona. Messi is Messi when he wears that shirt and he's another Messi with Argentina. 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, he added." Maradona said in an interview with Fox Sports.
Messi has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won 33 trophies, including nine La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and six Copa del Reys. A prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, the 31-year-old holds the records for most official goals scored in La Liga (388), a La Liga season (50), a club football season in Europe (73), a calendar year (91), El Clasico (26), as well as those for most assists in La Liga (151) and the Copa América (11).
But, when compared with his stint with Argentina, Messi has struggled to replicate his club success with his national team. He has been on the losing side in all four of his finals with Argentina - three in Copa America and at the 2014 World Cup. To make matters worse, he has not scored in four World Cup knockout stages, while his outing with Argentina in the recently-concluded World Cup once again left his fans disappointed.
Argentina, with a new-look side, have enjoyed a three-match unbeaten run since their early exit in Russia. They recently defeated Iraq 4-0 in an international friendly, but Lionel Scaloni's men will face a sterner test when they take on Brazil sans Messi on 16th October.