Kempes: Messi was absent in the final

The former Argentina international has hit out at the 27-year-old, claiming that he failed to meet expectation after the South Americans fell to a 1-0 defeat to Germany

Former Argentina international Mario Kempes has hit out at Lionel Messi, saying the national team’s captain was not “up to standard” during the World Cup.

Kempes, who finished as top scorer when Argentina won their first World Cup in 1978, has echoed Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s views, in being surprised that Messi was awarded the Golden Ball.

The Barcelona player scored four goals to secure Argentina’s progression from Group H, however Kempes believes he failed to make a decisive impact in the latter stages of the competition.

“Argentina needed Messi like a fish needs water but he needed to be more involved. We lacked his footballing brain,” he said.

“I think that Messi wasn’t up to standard during the World Cup. He may have scored four goals in the first few games but I don’t believe he showed he was the best player in the world by the end of the tournament.”

The 60-year-old also noted that Argentina, who finished as the tournament’s runners-up after Mario Gotze came off the bench to break the deadlock and score an extra-time winner for Germany, struggled to find an attacking spark, which, he believes, was their main downfall in Brazil.

“Our main concern, which was the defence, ended up being the attack. The world seems upside down.”