Argentine football star Lionel Messi has been receiving backlash of late, as Barcelona failed to end their ongoing season on a high, getting dumped out by Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final.

FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi, regarded as one of the best football players to ever grace the game, has been getting a lot of criticism of late for what he does on the pitch.

The latest barb came from 1978 World Cup winner and Argentina legend Mario Kempes, as Messi was handed yet another resounding defeat in his career, when Valencia beat Barcelona 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

In a recent interview with AS, as reported by Yahoo Sports, Kempes voiced the opinion that Messi had become “more selfish” while Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo is becoming more of a true team player, shedding his individualism.

The former World Champion said: “Messi is Messi and Messi is Barcelona. What you do or do not do is key. When Messi is on the field, prepare yourself, because you do not know at what moment he is going to mess you up.

“But Messi should not surprise us. We have seen him do everything, although I think he has slowed down a bit and now I see him wanting to do more things on his own. Before I saw him as a team player, now I see him more selfish in his actions.”

He added: “It is the opposite of Cristiano, who now plays more for the team than for the ‘me’.”

Feeling compelled to explain the reason for his statement,  Kempes said:

“We Argentines criticise Messi because we are specialists in criticising what is ours.

“If you ask me who I would have liked to play with, I would say it’s with Messi because I have already played with [Diego] Maradona,” he said.

FC Barcelona got off to a great start in the season and capitalised on an early lead to claim the La Liga crown. However, the team threw away a three-goal first-leg lead against Liverpool in the semi-final of the Champions League as they were dumped out after a 4-0 thrashing in the second leg. 

At the centre of all of his club’s success in the past decade, Lionel Messi has won five Ballon d’Ors and is typically regarded as the epitome of selflessness by experts in the game.

His arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo has been dubbed a player who looks out for himself more than for his team.

Messi, 31, has scored a prolific 50 goals for Barcelona this season. He is also well in line to receive his sixth European Golden Shoe, with a potential Ballon d’Or coming up at the end of the year.