Not so long ago, Brazilian legend Pele seemed unfazed by Lionel Messi’s talents, claiming he only had one way to dribble and never scored with his head.
Now, however, it looks like the best goal-scorer in soccer history thinks otherwise, as he lauded the Argentinean superstar during his latest interview.
Pele was asked which modern-day player he’d like to play with, and while it took him a while to make his mind, Messi was his first and firm choice:
“I think Leo Messi. He is a skilled player, gives assists, passes, scores, dribbles well. If we were in a team together, the opponents would have to worry about two players, not just one! Today Messi is the most complete player,” Pele told Gazzetta dello Sport.
However, the Santos legend claimed modern-day soccer doesn’t have as many worldwide stars as they were back in the day, claiming there are just a handful of top-tier players now and the rest are just below their level:
“Once you found two or three in every country with great football culture. You had Eusebio, (Antonio) Simoes, (Johan) Cruyff, (Franz) Beckenbauer, (Diego) Maradona, Garrincha, Didi. How many did I say? There were so many. Today we have two or three in total. Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, I would say Neymar, who in Brazil has not yet managed to become a great figure,” the Brazilian added.
Regarding his compatriot, Pele claimed he hopes Neymar stays healthy for the upcoming World Cup so he proves his doubters wrong, lauding him as a fellow Santos product and calling him an excellent player:
“I hope so. I hope that at the next World Cup he is in good physical condition. People criticize him. Even I did it a few times, but we forget that he is a product of ours, of the nursery of Santos. We always want the best for him. I talk about it often with his father. Technically he is an excellent player,” he concluded.