Barcelona legend Diego Maradona has claimed he taught Lionel Messi how to score free-kicks during his time as Argentina boss.
The duo worked alongside each other nearly a decade ago, with Messi playing under Maradona at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
And Maradona has now revealed how he helped the Barcelona star become a prolific free kick taker during his time as Argentina manager.
“I coached the best, Messi,” he said after being named manager of Gymnasia de La Plata.
« And nobody can tell me otherwise, because he was able to skip past up to five players – a phenomenon.
“He had an issue with free-kicks. When we finished every training session, we kept Leo behind so he could practice, and he started to hit the post.
“I didn’t teach him how to take a free-kick, then he asked me how I was able to score.
“I said, ‘you just have to hit it in the middle. They aren’t going to give me an Oscar to teach you this’.
“And he replied, ‘but I hit it in the middle and the ball goes this way or that way’.
« And I told him, ‘don’t worry, you’re going to make it’. Now he just can’t miss.”
Maradona’s comments come nearly a year after he hit out at the Barcelona star, accusing him of not being a leader.
« We shouldn’t deify Messi any longer, » Maradona said in an interview with Fox Sports.
« He’s Messi when he plays for Barcelona. Messi is Messi when he wears that shirt and he’s another Messi with Argentina.
« He’s a great player but he’s not a leader.
“It’s useless trying to make a leader out of a man who goes to the toilet 20 times before a game. »
Meanwhile, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu recently claimed Messi was free to leave at the end of the season – for no transfer fee.
“Leo Messi has a contract through to the 2020/21 season, but the player is able to leave Barca before the final season,” he said.
“It’s the same case as with the final contracts that Xavi, (Carles) Puyol and (Andres) Iniesta had.
“They are players who deserve that liberty, and we shouldn’t worry, as they are very committed to Barca.
“We want Messi to play for Barca through to 2021 and beyond. We are very calm. »