Former Argentina great Mario Kempes has joined the growing criticism of the decision to award Lionel Messi the Golden Ball at the World Cup, declaring that the four-time Ballon d’Or winner was "not up to standard" in Brazil.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted he was surprised that Messi was named player of the tournament despite failing to score in the knockout rounds, while ex-Argentina star Diego Maradona claimed Messi had been given the award for "marketing reasons".
Kempes, top scorer when Argentina first won the World Cup in 1978, gave a harsh critique of Messi’s performances in Brazil during an interview with Radio America.
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"I think that Messi wasn’t up to standard during the World Cup," he said. "He may have scored four goals in the first few games but I don’t believe he showed he was the best player in the world by the end of the tournament.
"Argentina needed Messi like a fish needs water but he needed to be more involved. We lacked his footballing brain."
Argentina finished the tournament conceding just four goals but lacked spark in attack, scoring just twice in the four knockout games as they finished runners-up to Germany.
Kempes added: "Our main concern, which was the defence, ended up being the attack. The world seems upside down."