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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi lacks the leadership needed to carry a team

Barcelona star Lionel Messi lacks the personality to carry a team, his Argentina compatriot Diego Maradona said on Thursday.

Messi, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner, has frequently been compared with Maradona throughout his career and often criticised because the Albiceleste have not won any major titles with the Barcelona star leading their attack.

Maradona was in Paris on Thursday along with fellow football legends to participate in a promotional event for the European Championship. Pele, who was also in attendance, asked Maradona what he thought about the Barcelona forward.

"He is a great person, but he has no personality," Maradona said. "He doesn't have the personality to be a leader."

Maradona led the Argentines to World Cup glory in 1986. Messi, meanwhile, missed out on the World Cup in 2014 with a disappointing loss to Germany in the final.

Messi missed the opener of the Copa America for his country earlier this week but is fit to face Panama on Friday as he recovers from a back injury.

Over a 21-year club career, Maradona won league titles with Boca Juniors in Argentina and Serie A giants Napoli. Messi has won seven La Liga crowns, four Champions League titles and three Copa del Rey titles.

Maradona tipped Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo to be the headliner of Euro 2016.

"Cristiano without a doubt, is the star," he said. "He's one of those players who can single-handedly put his team in the final. He is football culture. Anyone who likes football, likes Cristiano."

Diego Maradona said that his compatriot Lionel Messi lacks leadership skills.

Maradona said that a player of Ronaldo's stature would not feel pressure. 

"Pressure? I don't think a player of his experience is under pressure in a tournament," he said. "The ones who should feel pressure are the defences that have to mark him in the game."

He added that the tournament could be won by any country.

"Favourites? In football there are no small rivals. Anyone can surprise you in a game. I see a lot of teams that can do well, but the ball will decide. For example, England have improved somewhat," he said.

"There are several players I want to see in the tournament. [Eden] Hazard, [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Wayne] Rooney, [Andres] Iniesta ... they're the ones who make you want to sit in front of the TV to watch the games."

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