Footballing legend Pelé has said that Diego Maradona was a much “much better player” than Lionel Messi.
In an interview with Folha de Sao Paulo, Pelé stated that he believed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi had one major flaw in that he only uses his left foot and is poor with his head.
“How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads well, shoots well, with the left and with the right, with another guy who only shoots with one leg, can only one dribble and doesn’t finish the ball well with the head?” he said.
“Maradona was one of the greatest players in history. If you ask me if he was better than Messi, then yes, he was much better. Beckenbauer and Cruyff were also excellent players.”
Pelé was also quick to play down any comparisons between him and Messi, saying: “How can you compare them? To compare yourself with Pelé, you must be someone who shoots well with your left foot and with the right, as well as scoring with your head.”
Neymar and Mbappé
In the interview, the Brazil great also spoke about Neymar and his perceived play-acting at the World Cup, but sympathised with him for being unfairly “singled out” after Brazil’s poor showing at the tournament.
“It’s difficult to defend Neymar for all the things he does besides playing football. I spoke with him and reminded him of his ability,” he said.
“He was unlucky because Brazil did not win the World Cup and he was singled out. I’ve been with him in Europe twice. We talked and I explained: ‘The God of football gave you the gift. What you do complicates it.'”
But despite his shortcomings, the three-time World Cup winner still thinks Neymar is better than PSG team mate, Kylian Mbappé, who became the youngest ever player to score in a World Cup since Pele himself in 1958, before going on to win the tournament.
“People compare me to Mbappé because there are similarities, right? But he is a world champion at 19 years old. I think Neymar is more complete than him, but in Europe everyone talks more about Mbappé.”