Lionel Messi is his own man and should not be compared to Diego Maradona. That is the view of Juan Sebastian Veron, the former Argentina international who had spells with both Manchester United and Chelsea.
Maradona famously carried his nation to World Cup glory in 1986, the playmaker delivering a host of spellbinding displays en route to La Albiceleste’s final victory over West Germany in Mexico City.
What’s more, Maradona’s sheer weight of personality further acted to propel what was a moderate group of players to football’s ultimate prize.
Lionel Messi, in Copa America action, should continue doing things his way according to Juan Sebastian Veron
MESSI IN FINALS WITH ARGENTINA
Copa America 2007: vs Brazil, lost 3-0
World Cup 2014: vs Germany, lost 1-0
Copa America 2015: vs Chile, 0-0, (lost 4-1 on pens:
But while Messi is yet to accomplish anything on the international stage to match his catalogue of achievements in a Barcelona jersey, Veron insists the 28-year-old doesn’t need to alter his character in order to inspire his Argentina team-mates.
‘Leo is a guy that does not radiate an overwhelming personality, as Maradona did in his time,’ said Veron, speaking to Fox Sports.
‘He is quiet, but he has a strong hold over the group with his personality, without raising his voice.
‘It is not necessary to have a strong personality. He does it his way.’
Diego Maradona during the final of the 1986 World Cup, a tournament he bestrode as its standout player
Juan Sebastian Veron never found his feet in England, but the creative midfielder shone in Italy’s Serie A
Messi has lost three major finals with his country, most notably at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago. In addition to that defeat against Germany the attacker was in the Argentina teams beaten in the showpiece games at the Copa America in both 2007 and 2015.
Hopes are rising in Veron’s homeland, however, that Gerardo Martino’s side are on the verge of ending a 23-year wait for silverware.
Argentina progressed through the group stage with a 100 per cent record at the Copa America tournament currently being played in the USA. A quarter-final with Venezuela awaits on Sunday night (00:00 BST).
‘I like the team,’ Veron added. ‘I think it is a serious team, which creates confidence, but this does not mean today we will be champions.
‘It is not a fancy or flashy team, but a team you know that at any time you can win.’