Maradona was caught telling Pele that national team captain Messi had "no personality" and lacked the character to be a leader.
Messi responded to the criticism by coming off the bench and scoring a hat-trick in his side's 5-0 win over Panama at the Copa America Centenario on Friday.
Despite that, the 1986 World Cup winner said he still felt the same – but it was no criticism of Messi.
"I still think the same thing I told Pele," Maradona told Diario Popular.
"But I do not want it to look like a criticism. It is not so.
"The boy [Messi] they want as a leader and leaders are made alone."
Maradona believes the captaincy could be weighing Messi down, saying: "If you demand Leo plays with his right [leg], he will play poorly. You have to let him play."
Argentina have booked their spot in the Copa America Centenario quarter-finals and face Bolivia on Tuesday.