Lionel Messi may have 'staged' Argentina retirement - Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona has suggested Lionel Messi "staged" his retirement from international football after Argentina lost the Copa America Centenario final to Chile earlier this summer.

Messi, 29, called time on his Albiceleste career after a third final defeat in as many years, following losses to Germany at the World Cup in 2014 and Chile in the Copa America last year.

However, he has since reversed his decision and forms part of new manager Edgardo Bauza's first squad for next week's World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela.

Argentina legend Maradona, who coached Messi at the 2010 World Cup, told TyC Sports: "[Messi] escaped the criticism but the Argentines suffered.

"Maybe his retirement was staged to make us forget about the three final losses."

It is not the first time Maradona has been critical of Messi. Going into this summer's Copa in the United States, he raised doubts about the Barcelona star's leadership abilities going into the tournament.

"He is a great person, but he has no personality," the 55-year-old said at the time. "He doesn't have the personality to be a leader."

Messi has been constantly compared with Maradona throughout his career and the lack of a major international trophy is one of the things often used against him.

While Maradona won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986 and led them to the final in 1990, Messi's only taste of international success is the gold medal he won at the 2008 Olympics.