Argentina World Cup winner Mario Kempes insists Lionel Messi cannot be compared to the legendary Diego Maradona.

Messi, whose hat-trick against Ecuador secured Argentina's place in Russia, missed a penalty in their Group D opener against Iceland as Jorge Sampaoli's side were held to a draw.

Despite the array of attacking talent at their disposal, it is Messi who is the one relied on to push Argentina forward.

And Kempes - who won the World Cup in 1978 - claims a lack of variety from Sampaoli's side has not helped Messi in his bid to reach the level of Maradona on the international stage.

"It's silly. Messi is good but he's never won the World Cup. Comparing players from different eras is impossible," Kempes told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I won the World Cup in 1978, Maradona in 1986 and Messi is yet to do that. That's the reality of the situation.

"Argentina only have a Plan A, they lack a Plan B and a Plan C. Plan A is to give the ball to Messi, close their eyes and hope for the best.

"But if Messi doesn't perform they lack any other solution. Individually they have quality but as a collective it doesn't work. I see a lot of 'Messi's friends' but not many 'teammates'. That's the difference."

Kempes' thoughts were not echoed by Sergio Ramos, however, with the Real Madrid man hitting back at Maradona following the 57-year-old's comments that the Spain captain was not a true leader.

"In Argentina they know that Maradona is light years away from the best Argentine player in history, which for me is Lionel Messi," Ramos told reporters.