Pelé doesn't think much of Lionel Messi, says he 'only has one skill'

Yahoo Sports
Brazilian soccer legend <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/379784/" data-ylk="slk:Pelé">Pelé</a> was asked his opinion on <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/soccer/players/372884/" data-ylk="slk:Lionel Messi">Lionel Messi</a> and had nothing good to say. (Photo by FABI0 TEIXEIRA /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé was asked his opinion on Lionel Messi and had nothing good to say. (Photo by FABI0 TEIXEIRA /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Pelé, one of the greatest soccer players of all time, has some strong opinions about Lionel Messi. And they are not positive opinions.

In a recent interview with the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, Pelé was asked what he thinks about people calling Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi the greatest player ever. According to a translation from Sports Illustrated, Pelé was not kind.

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

Pelé didn’t bother to couch his comments with something like “Messi’s not the best, but he’s fine.” He went right for the jugular, criticizing Messi’s reliance on his left foot and his lack of other skills. You don’t say someone “only has one skill” if you think they’re decent. Pelé doesn’t think much of Messi at all.

He did reveal who he thinks deserves to be beside him, or perhaps compared to him, on the list of the greatest players ever. He mentioned Messi again, but not in a good way.

“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. [Franz] Beckenbauer, [Johan] Cruyff were also excellent players.”

Pelé is a legend, and he’s earned the right to talk about this, but he’s obviously giving Messi the short shrift here. Messi has won the Ballon d’Or five times. He’s tallied 567 club goals and 65 goals for Argentina. He hasn’t won a World Cup (Pelé won three), but he’s won nine La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies on top of that. He’s got an impressive résumé, and at 31 has at least a few more years to add to it.

But the debate is far from over — in fact, it may never be. As long as there is soccer, and soccer players, and soccer fans, there will always be a debate over the greatest player ever. And Pelé will always have an opinion.

(Yahoo Sports h/n: Sports Illustrated)

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