Diego Maradona blasts Lionel Messi after Argentina World Cup exit

DIEGO MARADONA has laid into Lionel Messi following Argentina’s exit from the World Cup.

Messi played an ineffectual role for most of the 4-3 defeat to Argentina on Saturday.

The Barcelona star played as a false nine with Cristian Pavon and Angel Di Maria either side of him.

It meant centre-forwards Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala and Sergio Aguero were left on the bench.

And Argentina icon Maradona has criticised Messi for his performance, likening him to Argentine comic character Patoruzú.

“I saw him very isolated, far away from the box,” Maradona said of Messi.

“I said that if he played as a No 9 and had to go looking for the ball, piece the game together, set the goals up and score them.

Diego Maradona Lionel Messi Argentina World CupEPA

Diego Maradona has criticised Lionel Messi and the Argentina side

Diego Maradona Lionel Messi Argentina World CupTASS

Lionel Messi (left) proved ineffectual as Argentina exited the World Cup

Patoruzu_

Patoruzú a the well-meaning but useless comic hero in Argentina

We are talking more about Patoruzú than about Lionel Messi

Diego Maradona

“It seemed we were talking more about Patoruzú than about Lionel Messi.”

Maradona went on to criticise manager Jorge Sampaoli for his starting XI.

“It was already predicted in the build-up. We knew after we left Moscow that Pavon, Messi and Di María were the ones who were going to attack the French defence, yet I don’t think they know a lot about the box, penalty spot or putting pressure on the centre-backs,” maradona said.

“Yes, they know how to create, but they’re not strikers.

“I think we went to the cinema more than the field because we came to see the chronicle of a death foretold.

“It’s true because Argentina inadvertently went out to attack France but made the mistake of leaving a lot of room for Mbappe.”

Diego Maradona10

Diego Maradona delivered his World Cup verdict after the Argentina defeat

He was spotted swearing at Nigeria fans after a late winner in the group stage, while he was also checked out by medical staff during the game in St Petersburg.

It is not known if Maradona will continue to watch games at the World Cup in Russia now Argentina are out.

As for the future, Maradona wants a new breed of players to be trusted in Argentina’s next tournament – the Copa America next summer.

“We have to aim at the kids, go through the good things that the boys leave us with even though they won’t be there anymore,” he said.

“(We have to) try to inculcate the sacred fire that at times seems to be lacking in Argentina.”

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