Former Argentine great Diego Maradona has defended himself on his comments against Lionel Messi, stating that his statements were misinterpreted and that people tried to put him in confrontation with the Barcelona superstar. Speaking to the media after leading his team Dorados de Sinaloa to a 3-2 win against Mineros de Zacatecas, the 1986 World Cup hero said,
"I know who Leo is. I know he is the best in the world. If 20 players go to the bathroom before a game, I never mentioned Lionel Messi. What happens is that people want to put me in confrontation with Messi and they can't. They can't. The friendship I have with Lionel is much bigger than what all of you [journalists] can write. I'm saying Messi is the best in the world."
Earlier this month, Maradona had questioned Messi's leadership skills with the national team, claiming 'he goes to toilet 20 times before a game'.
"Messi is a great player, but he’s not a leader. Before talking to the coach and players, he’ll play on the PlayStation. Then, on the field, he wants to be the leader. He’s the best in the world with Cristiano [Ronaldo]. For me, it’s difficult to say it but it’s useless to make a leader out of a man who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a game. There’s no two ways about it. Let’s stop making a God out of Messi. Messi is just another player for Argentina," he had said.
His comments did not go down well with the family of the Barcelona superstar, who attacked Maradona. Messi's cousin, Maxi Biancucchi, who is referred by a few as 'El Primo de Messi', lashed out at Maradona, terming him as 'ignorant'. The 34-year-old was quoted by Mirror as saying,
"It’s ignorant to discredit Leo. It’s sad to see how someone who boasts of being a leader, can talk so badly about a player who’s currently the best we’ve got and will probably be so for a long time yet. And he’s done it at a time when he should be helping to rebuild if he loves the national side as he says he does."