Lionel Messi will never be able to better Diego Maradona "even if he wins four World Cups in a row", according to Argentina legend Mario Kempes.
The forward finally ended his international drought with the Albiceleste after claiming a long-awaited maiden Copa America triumph against Brazil on Saturday.
It leaves the World Cup as the lone major honour the 34-year-old is yet to collect for club - with Barcelona - and country, but now Kempes has claimed that, for all his achievements, he will always be in the shadow of his late compatriot, a cultural icon within his home country and around the world.
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What has been said?
"For Messi, the misfortune is that he was the replacement for Diego Maradona," Kempes, who won the World Cup in 1978, told ESPN . "And it is very difficult to overshadow Diego, with the idolatry that he has received around the world
"If [Messi] wants to be better than Maradona, he is not going to achieve it even if he wins four World Cups in a row.
"He still hasn't won the World Cup. No matter how many [titles he] wins or what he wins, it can never be compared to what Diego did."
Copa triumph furthers GOAT debate
Messi's success at the weekend has further intensified debate over whether he can be considered the greatest modern footballer of all time or whether Cristiano Ronaldo - who enjoyed national success with Portugal at Euro 2016 - is his equal or superior.
The former has now won 34 major honours at club level - including the Copa del Rey last season under Ronald Koeman - but save a gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, he had not won silverware with his country until this month.
His haul in terms of pure trophies far exceeds that of Maradona, who passed away last November aged 60 - but the latter's World Cup triumph, combined with his larger-than-life personality on and off the field, means that he still has some way to go to achieve the same status, at least in Kempes' eyes.
The bigger picture
Having completed his international commitments with Lionel Scaloni's side, Messi will now mull over his future after the expiration of his contract at Barcelona last month.
A long-running transfer saga last year looked to signal a departure ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, but a change of leadership at Camp Nou seems to have convinced the attacker to renew at the only club he has ever played senior football for.
However, the Blaugrana's financial situation means that the finer details of a new deal - and when it could be announced - remain up in the air, leaving the free agent available to pursue other avenues with other suitors should he so choose.