Messi graces the number 10 shirt in the same way Maradona did a generation ago
Argentina coach Diego Maradona says forward Lionel Messi is playing as well as he himself did when he inspired the team to win the World Cup in 1986.
When asked if Messi's World Cup was likely to be like Maradona's in 1982, where he failed to meet expectations, or his 1986 glory, the coach was clear.
"I think he's there. I believe he has broken the mould and is ready, let's end the comparisons," he said.
"Leo is ready to go on to a pitch and leave it [World Cup] with the crown."
Barcelona star Messi, 23, is widely acknowledged as the greatest player on the planet.
Although he has yet to score in the tournament, he has had more shots at goal than any other player - 20 - and has twice hit the post while laying on chances for team-mates.
Argentina reached the second round by winning all three games in Group B, scoring seven goals and conceding one, to set up a clash with Mexico on Sunday and then a potential quarter-final meeting with England.
That would rekindle memories of the last-eight encounter at the 1986 World Cup, where Maradona scored the notorious 'Hand of God' goal before dribbling half the length of the pitch to net Argentina's second in a 2-1 victory.
Archive - Maradona inspires Argentina to 1986 win
As well as signing the praises of Messi, Maradona has also revealed his admiration for and friendship with new Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.
"I like Mourinho a lot [as a coach]," he said of the former Chelsea manager who won the Italian League and Cup and also the Champions League to complete a treble with Inter Milan last season before his move to Spain.
"On top of that, the way he received me, we spent hours talking about football, attacking and defensive tactics.
"He seemed to me a guy to take to your bedside table and ask him each time you need something. I've got his phone number, I might call him."
But Maradona revealed he would not resort to Mourinho's ultra-defensive tactics.
"No, not that but it worked for him, right? He won the Champions League."