“How can you compare?” – When Pele hit out at Lionel Messi and claimed that the Argentine had only one skill

“How can you compare?” – When Pele hit out at Lionel Messi and claimed that the Argentine had only one skill


Pele once claimed that Lionel Messi was very one-dimensional and had just one skill

Brazilian legend Pele once hit out at Argentina superstar Lionel Messi, claiming that he was too one-dimensional and did not have many skills. The former Santos forward made the statements in an interview with Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo in 2018.

Pele, who was nicknamed ‘O Rei’ (the King), found the back of the net over 1000 times in a stellar 21-year career. He still remains Santos’ all-time top scorer (643 in 659 games) and Brazil’s second-highest scorer (77 in 92 appearances), behind Neymar (79 in 128 appearances).

He won three FIFA World Cup titles with the Selecao (1958, 1962 and 1970) and ten titles at club level with Santos. He sadly passed away in December 2022, aged 82.

Four years earlier, however, Pele had stirred up a controversy when he claimed that the ex-Barca superstar was very linear in his approach towards the game. He said (via Goal):

“How can you make a comparison between a guy [Pele] who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another [Messi] who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well? How can you compare? To compare with Pele, it has to be someone who shoots well with the left, shoots well with the right, and scores headers.”

Pele’s comments were highly surprising at the time, for a 31-year-old Messi was still tearing up the Spanish top-flight with Barcelona. He was coming off a 45-goal campaign (54 games) in 2017-18, in which he had captained his side to victory in La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

“Yes, he was, much better” – When Pele called Diego Maradona a better player than Lionel Messi

In the aforementioned interview with Folha de Sao Paulo in 2018, Brazilian icon Pele also called Argentine icon Diego Maradona a better player than Lionel Messi.

Maradona is widely considered as one of the best players of the 1980s. He racked up 159 goals and 103 assists in 343 games at club level, representing sides like Boca Juniors, Sevilla, Napoli and Barcelona.

He lifted a FIFA World Cup title as the captain of Argentina in 1986, powering his side to victory with five goals and five assists in seven games. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2020, aged 60.

Putting Maradona above the Inter Miami attacker in his ranking of the best footballers ever, Pele said (via GOAL):

“As far as I’m concerned, Maradona was one of the best players ever. If you ask me, ‘Was he better than Messi?’ Yes, he was. Much better.”

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