‘I love Leo’ – Maradona denies Messi criticism

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi reacts during a training session of the Argentina's national football team at the team's base camp in Bronnitsy, near Moscow on June 15, 2018, on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match against Iceland at the Spartak stadium. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATA

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi reacts during a training session of the Argentina's national football team at the team's base camp in Bronnitsy, near Moscow on June 15, 2018, on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup Group D football match against Iceland at the Spartak stadium. / AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATA

Diego Maradona says he “loves” Lionel Messi and described as “false” comments attributed to him attacking his Argentine compatriot and Barcelona legend.

“Leo is a friend of mine and I’d never speak ill of a friend,” Maradona assured Spanish sports newspaper Marca on Wednesday.

Last month Maradona was quoted as telling Fox Sports in Mexico that Messi “is not a leader… It’s useless to try and make a leader out of someone who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a game”.

He told Marca that “all that was false”.

“All I said was that Leo is a phenomenon. And that there were players who go to the toilet 20 times, but I never made any reference to Leo,” he insisted.

Maradona implored his fellow countryman to return to the national side after sitting out three friendlies since Argentina’s group-stage elimination from this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

“I think he should return, because if not, we are in a pickle.”

Maradona, who led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, is currently in Mexico coaching second-division Sinaloa.

 

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