Riquelme: Messi is Maradona's equal

The veteran playmaker has dismissed the criticism that the four-time Ballon d'Or has received for some allegedly lethargic displays at this summer's World Cup

Juan Roman Riquelme has revealed that he regards Lionel Messi as Diego Maradona's equal.

It has been argued that Messi's failure to emulate Maradona by leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Brazil this summer means that the Barcelona attacker cannot be considered as good as the undisputed star of the Albicleste's triumph at Mexico '86.

However, Riquelme has dismissed that rationale, as well as all of the criticism the four-time Ballon d'Or winner has copped for the allegedly indifferent attitude he exhibited while playing in a deeper, more withdrawn role for his country.

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"We have to enjoy Leo," the veteran playmaker told Fox Sports. "Everything is still going okay; he is the best.

“You see him walking on the field and he seems to be disconnected from the game, but he drops back and dribbles the ball forward.

“He is above and more defined then anyone. We are fortunate. With Maradona, we said that no one would be born equal and so we must enjoy Messi because he appears to be that."

Riquelme, who recently signed for Argentinos Juniors, played alongside Messi for Argentina at the 2006 World Cup.