Diego Maradona believes Lionel Messi is in decline as a footballer

Diego Maradona believes Lionel Messi is in decline at 32.

Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi have always been linked to an extent - Messi brought an end to the decade-long search for the next Maradona, after all.

But despite arguably being the greatest player of all time, Messi almost certainly won't quite match up to El Diego.

In Argentina especially, Maradona is the greatest - he did effectively in the World Cup on his own, something Messi looks unlikely to match.

And that's especially true if Maradona is right with his latest quotes on the Argentina captain after Barcelona drew away at Napoli on Tuesday.

"Messi arrived at San Paolo in decline," he told AS.

And that might be true - Messi is 32 years old, for one thing.

But Maradona also made sure to suggest why his compatriot won't be able to live up to his own reputation.

"Messi has not lived the life I have," he explained. "Leo could play extraordinarily in Naples, but he would not be able to do what I did. Let's be clear about that."

Maradona is practically a god in Naples.

Maradona is talking about his incredible career at Napoli, of course, where he dragged a historically unsuccessful team from Italy's disregarded south to two Serie A titles and the UEFA cup.

It is undoubtedly one of the greatest achievements football has seen and, along with the World Cup in '86, the reason many hail Maradona as the greatest ever.

Messi has spent his own career entirely with Barcelona, meaning he's never actually had the opportunity to win against the odds like that.

Could he have done it? We'll almost certainly never know.

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