Mexico, October 13: Diego Maradona lampooned Lionel Messi for using "the bathroom 20 times before a game" and suggested the Argentina star stay in the international wilderness.
Messi has not appeared for the national team since the last-16 loss to eventual champions France at the World Cup in Russia.
Caretaker coach Lionel Scaloni remains hopeful the Barcelona skipper will eventually end his self-imposed exile, but Maradona is less convinced of the 31-year-old's present value to the team.
The Albiceleste great and former head coach, who at times handed Messi the armband during the 2010 World Cup, is adamant any return should come with the caveat of no captaincy.
"Messi is a great player, but he's not a leader," Maradona told Fox Sports Mexico.
"Before speaking to the coach and players he will be on the PlayStation. Then, on the field, he wants to be the leader.
"It's useless to make a leader of a guy who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a game.
Encore! pic.twitter.com/U4cWhLPSDZ— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 8, 2018
"Let's stop making a god out of Messi. Messi at Barcelona is one thing and another with Argentina. I wouldn't call him up, but never say never.
"He is the best in the world along with Cristiano .
"You have to take the leadership away for him to be the Messi we want him to be."
Argentina are unbeaten in three friendlies since Russia 2018, while Messi has netted 11 goals in as many competitive club appearances this season.