Argentina produces such wonderfully talented footballers but they live in the past and that past is heavily weighed down by self absorption in Diego Maradona’s legacy – a millstone providing a constant drag to moving forward.
The latest to weigh on the Maradona controversy is Martin “El Loco” Palermo, a Maradona acolyte. In an interview with Ole, he said that the two months spent with Messi in South Africa convinced him that the Barca maestro was not Maradona.
“He does not have the mentality of Maradona. He is not ready to shoulder the responsibility of the national team. He is not going to assume the role of the playmaker because he is too used to the system at Barcelona. He has been raised in a different manner, has lived other experiences – we all know what Diego had to go through.”
This outburst was prompted after Messi had gone on record saying after the Ireland victory that he emphatically trusted interim coach Sergio Batista who made him feel just as comfortable as he did at Barcelona. To Palermo it amounted to an act of betrayal.
“Diego had a special relationship with Messi. I think this hurts him more as a human than that of a footballer. He treated Messi like his son.”
Which makes Messi his third son – he’s been a father to Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez. No wonder they carry so much baggage with these paternal obligations and inevitable comparisons. Maradona’s world is driven in purely personal terms and narcissm, by black and white emotions – betrayal and trust, love and hate, and a constant looking into the mirror. Where does one leave room for football tactics and objectivity when Maradona’s coaching instinct is if he gets the warm fuzzies from this player being the next Maradona?
Look at Brazil. They have moved beyond Dunga in a clean break. Pele has an outsize legacy, just one of the many Brazilians with one, but he has gone beyond the business of ordainment and navel gazing.