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After three disappointing defeats in the final of the Copa America, as well as an agonising 2014 World Cup final loss, Messi finally lifted an international trophy this past weekend when La Albiceleste beat Brazil 1-0 at the Maracana.
Angel Di Maria scored the winner and Messi was overcome with emotion at the final whistle following many moments of heartache with the national team.
The 34-year-old lit up the tournament in Brazil, with four goals and five assists in a wonderful campaign.
It followed up a stunning individual season with Barcelona, where he scored 38 goals in all competitions.
Plenty feel as though the Copa America win puts Messi in pole position to win a seventh Ballon d'Or and further cements his place as the best player of all time.
But Kempes, who wore the iconic No.10 shirt for Argentina en route to winning the 1978 World Cup, is adamant that 'El Diego', a two-time World Cup winner, will always be the greatest to ever do it.
"Messi's great misfortune is that he came onto the scene immediately after Diego Armando Maradona. And Diego, a player who was idolised by everyone, is very difficult to eclipse," the 66-year-old told ESPN Mexico, as per The Mirror.
"If Messi wants to be better than Maradona... He will never achieve that even if he wins four consecutive World Cups. He still has not been crown a world champions.
"It doesn't matter how much he wins, or what he wins, he will never be able to be compared to what Diego did."
Messi and Maradona have regularly been compared to one another due to their eerily similar playing style and technical wizardry with the ball.
In November, days after Maradona's passing, Messi paid tribute to his former coach by removing his Barcelona shirt and revealing an old Newell's Old Boys No.10 strip.
When Maradona made his debut for Newell's, a five-year-old Messi was on the pitch beforehand doing kick-ups.
Messi dedicated Argentina's Copa America victory, their first since 1993, to Maradona as well as the 45 million Argentines.
"This is for all, and of course also for Diego, who surely was supporting us from wherever he is," the six-time Ballon d'Or winner wrote on Instagram.
"In order to continue celebrating we have to continue taking care of ourselves.
"Let's not forget that there is still a long way to go to return to normality and I hope we can take advantage of this happiness to gain a little strength to fight the virus together."
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