Diego Maradona believes Lionel Messi has nothing left to prove to his critics ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Messi is preparing to lead Argentina at this summer’s World Cup as he bids to land the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has never won a major international tournament with Argentina and lost in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in Brazil.
But Maradona, who won the competition in 1986, insists Messi should play freely and without feeling under pressure when he takes to the field in Russia.
‘I would advise Messi to keep playing, to enjoy the game,’ Maradona told Omnisport via Goal. ‘He has to forget about the critics, if he can win or not the World Cup, the Champions League or the Copa del Rey.
‘He doesn’t have to demonstrate anything. He has to enjoy the game into the field.’
Messi played a pivotal role in Argentina qualifying for Russia as he netted five more goals than any of his team-mates including a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Ecuador which sealed their World Cup spot.
The Barcelona superstar is 31 at the conclusion of this World Cup and chances are fast running out for him to add the biggest trophy of them all to his collection.
Argentina have been drawn into Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria as they Jorge Sampaoli’s men bid to secure the trophy for the first time in 32 years.
They play Italy at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium on Friday night before taking on Spain at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on Tuesday when Messi will face off against a number of his Barcelona team-mates.