Messi claimed his first major honour with his home country last weekend after years of missing out in agonising fashion.
The 34-year-old had lost three Copa America finals and a World Cup final with Argentina heading into last Sunday’s contest with Brazil, but finally got his hands on a piece of silverware.
Many believe this trophy has confirmed Messi’s status as the greatest player of all time, though not everyone agreed with this view.
Kempes, who won the 1978 World Cup with Argentina, believes the Barcelona legend will never reach the heights of Maradona – no matter how many trophies he claims on the international stage.
“Messi’s great misfortune is that he came onto the scene immediately after Diego Armando Maradona. And Diego, a player who was idolised by everyone, is very difficult to eclipse,” he told ESPN Mexico.
“If Messi wants to be better than Maradona… He will never achieve that even if he wins four consecutive World Cups. He still has not been crown a world champions.
“It doesn’t matter how much he wins, or what he wins, he will never be able to be compared to what Diego did,” Kempes added.
Who should be considered the greatest player of all-time? Comment below.
Messi versus Maradona is a debate that has been running for several years and has left many supporters divided.
After putting up with constant comparisons throughout his playing career, Messi remained full of respect for Maradona and even shared a similar view to Kempes when discussing the legacy of the former Boca Juniors forward.
“Even if I played for a million years, I’d never come close to Maradona,” said Messi. “Not that I’d want to anyway. He’s the greatest there’s ever been.”
Messi’s respect for Maradona was again clear to see after celebrating Argentina’s Copa America triumph, having dedicated this victory to the iconic footballer.
“This is for all, and of course also for Diego, who surely was supporting us from wherever he is,” he said.
“In order to continue celebrating we have to continue taking care of ourselves.
“Let’s not forget that there is still a long way to go to return to normality and I hope we can take advantage of this happiness to gain a little strength to fight the virus together.”
Do you want an exclusive pre-season preview of YOUR club – both in your inbox and through your letterbox? Head over here to find out more and secure your copy.