Argentina legend Diego Maradona believes it is normal that compatriot Lionel Messi has come in for heavy criticism in his homeland.
The Barcelona ace has come under fire following his supposed failure to replicate his club form for his country.
This has prompted speculation that the 28-year-old could take a break from international duty and, in an interview with sports newspaper Ole, Maradona stressed his belief that the criticism is easy to explain.
"It's logical that he's come in for flak, it's easy to explain,” he began. “We've got the best player in the world, who goes and scores four goals against Real Sociedad, and then he comes here and doesn't touch the ball.
“You're left saying to yourself, 'Are you Argentinian or Swedish?'
"People have got to stop droning on about Messi needing to be pampered. Messi should be treated just like any other player who pulls on the national-team shirt. Like the best in the world, for better or worse.”
Maradona then went on to back the criticism of Messi, “so that he improves.”