New Maradona or New Diego is a title given by the press and public to promising Argentine football players in reference (and reverence) to Diego Maradona as a benchmark. Since Maradona retired, people have been anticipating someone to lead the Argentine national team to a World Cup final, like Maradona did twice.
As a consequence, very talented youngsters are quickly labeled as a New Maradona, sometimes without any similarity in playing style (for example Franco Di Santo or Juan Román Riquelme). The New Maradonas are predominately players in attacking roles — forwards, wingers, or attacking midfielders.
Although still widely contested among Argentine football players, in recent times, the title has been attached to FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, an assertion claimed by Maradona himself. Maradona and Messi worked together as manager and captain for Argentina's national side at the 2010 World Cup, the former thoroughly impressed with the latter's skills.
Even before Maradona made this pronouncement, people already drew comparisons with the two. On 14 October 2006 in a match against Recreativo de Huelva, Messi scored a goal with his hand, which drew comparison to the Hand of God goal scored by Maradona against England in the 1986 World Cup. On 18 April 2007, Messi scored a goal against Getafe CF which was very similar to Maradona's second goal against England, called the Goal of the Century. The world's sports press exploded with Maradona comparisons, and the Spanish press labeled Messi "Messidona". Messi also scored a goal using his hand in Barcelona's 2–2 draw with RCD Espanyol, leading to comparisons with Maradona's first goal against England. On 12 March 2014, Messi scored two goals, and helped create the fourth, to help Barcelona defeat A.C. Milan (4–0) in the 2nd leg of their Champions League game and reach the quarter-finals. Messi's opening goal of the match once again drew further comparisons between himself and Maradona, due to the similarity between Messi's opening goal of the match and Maradona's famous goal against Greece in the 1994 World Cup.
Messi has largely been compared to Diego Maradona, due to their similar playing style, skill set and short stature, as their lower centre of gravity than most players, allows them to be more agile and change direction more quickly, helping them to evade tackles, and their short legs allow them to excel in short bursts of acceleration, and to keep control of the ball when dribbling at speed. Both players have played and worn the number 10 shirt for Barcelona, and like Maradona before him, Messi is also predominantly a left footed player. Messi's passing, dribbling, vision, eye for goal and playmaking ability have also drawn comparisons to Maradona. Like Maradona, Messi is also an accurate set piece and penalty kick taker. With regard to his dribbling ability and ball control, Maradona has said of Messi: "The ball stays glued to his foot; I’ve seen great players in my career, but I’ve never seen anyone with Messi's ball control." Maradona has stated that he believes Messi to currently be the greatest player in the world. Although Messi is regarded as being a more offensive player for Barcelona, he has also played in a more similar position to Maradona, in particular for Argentina, where he is predominantly used as an attacking midfielder, as a deep-lying forward, or as a winger, rather than as a striker or as a false-9. Like Maradona, Messi is considered to be one of the greatest players both of his generation and of all time.
Like Maradona, Messi won the FIFA World Youth Championship, in 2005 with Argentina, and won the Golden Ball. Coincidentally, both players made their national debut against Hungary, and Messi also went on to inherit Maradona's number 10 shirt and role as captain for Argentina. Messi would first wear the number 10 jersey and the captain's armband at an international tournament in the 2010 World Cup, under Maradona as coach. In 2014, Messi captained Argentina, leading them to their first World Cup final since Maradona had last brought them there as captain in 1990, where Argentina were once again defeated 1-0 by Germany. Like Maradona in 1986, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball (albeit controversially, a decision which Maradona even criticised), as the tournament's best player, scoring four goals and providing an assist. With this achievement, Maradona and Messi are the only players to win the Golden Ball at both the FIFA U-20 World Cup and FIFA World Cup, with Maradona doing so in 1979 and 1986, while Messi managed the same feat in 2005 and in 2014. Like Maradona in 1986, Messi also made the most successful dribbling runs of any other player throughout the tournament, and knocked out Belgium on the way to the final, drawing further comparisons between the two players. During the tournament, Messi's passionate celebration after scoring the match winning goal against Bosnia and Herzegovina was compared to Maradona's famous goal celebration against Greece in 1994. Furthermore, images surfaced which compared the heavy marking both players faced by the opposition defence at the World Cup. Like Maradona again in 1986, Messi was involved in the vast majority of Argentina's goals.
List of players once thought to be the "New Maradona"
- Diego Latorre (originally)
- Ariel Ortega
- Marcelo Gallardo
- Franco di Santo
- Juan Román Riquelme
- Pablo Aimar
- Andrés D'Alessandro
- Javier Saviola
- Carlos Marinelli
- Carlos Tevez
- Lionel Messi
- Sergio Agüero
- Ezequiel Lavezzi
- Mauro Zárate
- "Maradona proclaims Messi as his successor". China Daily. Reuters. 25 February 2006. Retrieved 28 December 2012. ""I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi," Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning captain was quoted a saying on Friday."
- "Goal hero Messi spares a thought for Maradona". ESPN. Reuters. 19 April 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Barcelona-based daily Sport said 'Messi Superstar' on its front page while the Marca led with 'Messidona.'"
- "Messi emulates Maradona with 'hand of god' goal". ESPN. Reuters. 9 June 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Argentine prodigy Lionel Messi emulated Diego Maradona once again on Saturday when he scored a replica of the Argentine great's famous 'hand of god' goal with a desperate equaliser against city rivals Espanyol on Saturday."
- "Round of 16( CL 2013)". Fc Barcelona. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "Maradona proclaims Messi as his successor". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "[Esplora il significato del termine: Controllo, corsa, tocco di palla Perché nel calcio piccolo è bello] Controllo, corsa, tocco di palla Perché nel calcio piccolo è bello". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Diego Maradona believes Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "10: Strength – Lionel Messi: 10 reasons why he's the world's greatest player". The Daily Telegraph (London). 30 March 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Lionel Messi: The Complete Footballer (Part Two: Passing/Vision)". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Real Madrid 1 Barcelona 3: Lionel Messi once again lights up El Clasico". Retrieved 7 September 2012.
- "From Messi to Ronaldo – the world's best free-kick takers". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Controllo, corsa, tocco di palla Perché nel calcio piccolo è bello". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Diego blasts Pele's Messi-Neymar claim". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Maradona: Cristiano Ronaldo will never reach Messi's level". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- "Del Potro: Messi's the best player in the world". Marca.com. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Simunic: Messi’s the best of all time". FIFA. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- Smith, Ben. "Lionel Messi: Goals record caps golden year for Barcelona star". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- "Lionel Messi hailed as 'incredible' and 'gigantic' by Gerd Muller after Barcelona star breaks record for most goals". London: Telegraph Sport. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- "Arsène Wenger hails Barcelona's Lionel Messi after four-goal display". The Guardian (London). 7 April 2010. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- "David Beckham: Lionel Messi is the best". ESPN. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
- "FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005". FIFA. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
- "World Cup Final: Was Lionel Messi really a disappointment in Brazil or have we just become numb to his genius?". Retrieved 2014-07-14.
- "World Cup History ties comparisons with Messi and legend Diego Maradona - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/worldcup/article/history-ties-comparisons-with-messi-and-legend-diego-maradona#sthash.XFVPmsD9.dpuf". Retrieved 17 July 2014.
- "Judgment days for Riquelme". The Scotsman (Edinburgh: Johnston Publishing). 3 June 2006. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "DIEGO Latorre was the first of the new Maradonas, the squat man from Boca Juniors exciting the Argentinian nation in the late 1980s, in the way that his great hero had done a decade earlier."
- Hughes, Stan (9 March 2009). "Maradona". Footy Factor. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Ariel Ortega, Marcelo Gallardo, Juan Roman Riquelme, Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi, the list goes on and on. All have been touted as the 'new Maradona' but none have lived up to the unique style and success that Diego Armando Maradona enjoyed during his 20-year playing career."
- "Bound for Chile". The Dominion Post (Wellington: Fairfax Media). 28 December 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2014. "Argentina under-20 striker Franco di Santo, dubbed the "new Maradona", was recently signed by Chelsea from Audax for $3 million."
- "Judgment days for Riquelme". The Scotsman (Edinburgh: Johnston Publishing). 3 June 2006. Retrieved 15 June 2014. "Javier Saviola, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi are the most recent, with the daddy of them all being 27-year-old Juan Roman Riquelme."
- "Real Zaragoza 3-0 Gimnastic de Tarragona". ESPN. 19 November 2006. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Argentinian Aimar, who moved to Zaragoza from Valencia over the summer, has struggled to live up to his billing as 'the new Maradona' - one of several players to have been handed that tag - since moving to Spain."
- Williamson, Laura (28 May 2009). "Is United's destroyer Lionel Messi the first 'New Maradona' worthy of the name?". Daily Mail (London: Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Forget Joe Cole, d'Alessandro was lauded as the latest 'new Maradona' after coming through the River Plate youth ranks and impressing during the 2001 Under 20 World Cup."
- Adderley, Nigel (11 July 2001). "The next Maradona". BBC Sport (London: British Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "His goal in his home city against Ghana ensures he'll continue to be saddled with the tag of being 'The New Maradona' for a bit longer."
- Williamson, Laura (28 May 2009). "Is United's destroyer Lionel Messi the first 'New Maradona' worthy of the name?". Daily Mail (London: Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Boro manager Bryan Robson said: 'People always like to tag a player and I hope he does turn out the be the new Maradona. 'That would be a great buy for us - but there's a long way to go before that.'"
- Vickery, Tim (6 December 2004). "Tevez - an Argentine in Brazil". BBC Sport (London: British Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "'The new Maradona' - Carlos Tevez - is joining Corinthians for nearly $20m in a strong candidate for the strangest move of the year."
- Vickery, Tim (22 August 2005). "Messi handles 'new Maradona' tag". BBC Sport (London: British Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Nevertheless, there is little doubt that in this time 18-year-old Lionel Messi is the most exciting Argentine talent to have emerged, an attacking midfielder who promises to be able to tip the balance at the highest level."
- Lowe, Sid (2 October 2006). "Aguero blows the chance to lay Atlético's derby jinx to rest". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Put yourself in Sergio Aguero's natty blue shoes. You're the latest New Maradona, the most expensive signing in Atlético Madrid's 103-year history, 25m worth of quick feet, vision and goals, of shirt-hanging-out-of-shorts, scurrying genius."
- Bandini, Paolo (4 September 2007). "Livewire Lavezzi sparks Napoli into life, before the inevitable". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Step aside Leo Messi, Carlos Tevez, and ... er ... Carlos Marinelli, there's a new New Maradona on the scene, and this one even plays for Napoli. Ezequiel Iván Lavezzi, a 5.5m summer signing from San Lorenzo, had already signalled his arrival with a match-winning hat-trick against Pisa in the Coppa Italia last month, but it takes a little more than bullying Serie B sides to make i partoponei forget el Pibe d'Oro."
- Cheese, Caroline (29 March 2008). "Premier League as it happened". BBC Sport (London: British Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 28 December 2012. "He's the new Maradona! That man Mauro Zarate fires into the far corner for his and Birmingham's second."