Maradona identified Messi as his natural heir, hoping that the ace striker would help the team to take the trophy to Buenos Aires, as he did in 1986.
"I would love to see that. I certainly would appreciate it if he could have the same impact on the World Cup that I had in 1986, the same leading role. But behind Lionel there is a whole team backing him up and he should be the cherry on the cake," he said.
"I just hope from the bottom of my heart that Lionel gets to show what he can do and that he has the best performance of all time," the Daily Express quoted Maradona, as saying.
Argentina fitness coach Fernando Signorini declared that all 23 squad members were fit, dispelling concerns that Messi was still feeling the after-effects of a 63-game season with Barcelona.
"Messi knows very well that he can make the difference and create chances. But this is what a World Cup is all about, there's little margin for error and there is no guarantee the players will always be at their best," said Maradona. (ANI)