Diego Maradona stands by criticism of Lionel Messi's leadership qualities

Diego Maradona has again questioned whether Lionel Messi is the right man to captain Argentina, but insisted it is not a criticism or a reflection on the forward's ability.

In a discussion with Pele, Maradona stated a belief that Messi had "no personality" and lacked the character to be a great leader.

The 1986 World Cup winner stood by his comments but attempted to play down the inflammatory nature of them, claiming it was not a personal attack.

"I still think the same thing I told Pele," Maradona told Diario Popular. "But I do not want it to look like a criticism. It is not so.

"The boy [Messi] they want as a leader and leaders are made alone."

Although Messi came off the bench to score a hat trick for Argentina in the 5-0 Copa America Centenario win against Panama, Maradona believes the captaincy could be weighing him down.

He added: "If you demand Leo plays with his right [leg], he will play poorly. You have to let him play."