After battling through qualifying, Jorge Sampaoli's men are not considered among the strong favourites for Russia 2018.
However, Riquelme – who was capped 51 times by the national team – believes Argentina could contend if Messi performs, having been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.
"We hope that we do well, that the players do well and above all Messi," the Argentinian told El Trece.
"If the latter happens, Argentina will have many chances to win. If Messi is good, nothing is complicated.
"I don't know Sampaoli. It is important that Argentina can win the World Cup.
Riquelme says Argentina just average without Messi
Juan Roman Riquelme believes Argentina become just a "normal" team without Lionel Messi, as do Real Madrid when Cristiano Ronaldo is absent.
"We want to celebrate and when there are players as important as Messi, you depend on them a lot."
Messi missed out on winning a sixth Ballon d'Or this year, with Cristiano Ronaldo instead joining him on a record five.
Riquelme believes his countryman is the world's best, but he paid tribute to both the Barcelona star and Real Madrid forward.
"It's Messi and we're lucky he's Argentinian. Cristiano Ronaldo served Messi, and Messi Cristiano Ronaldo," he said.
"Both gave themselves strength to share the prizes. I think Messi is the best. They are incredible."
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