Another Brazil legend knocks Messi’s greatness, names greater player between Pele and Maradona

The rivalry between Argentina and Brazil on the field is among the most keenly contested in world football so it may come as little surprise when that rivalry spills off the pitch often, including now through the comments of Brazil legend, Zico, who believes Barcelona ace, Lionel Messi, should not be put on the same level with his compatriot, Pele.

Lionel Messi Argentina 2018

According to Zico, Pele is the greatest footballer of all time while Messi could be seen as being on the level of Diego Maradona. The Selecao legend feels a lack of success on the international stage counts against the Barcelona captain when it comes to selecting the best ever. Regardless, Messi is enjoying another stellar season with Barca, having scored 15 times in as many games for the Catalan club in La Liga. He is also well on course to surpassing 30 goals in a single league season for an eighth time, while Barca are favourites to win the title and likely to be among the Champions League frontrunners.

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Yet Zico – who starred for Brazil in the 1970s and 80s – thinks Messi is still not at the standard Maradona was in his heyday, while he ranks Pele above both because he had “everything”. “Messi is close to Maradona,” Zico, who works as a director at Kashima Antlers, told Omnisport. “That means, in my opinion, he can’t be compared to Pele. I still consider Maradona in front of Messi. With Pele, no. Pele has all the qualities and characteristic that a football player has to have.”

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Zico went on to say: “When God created him [Pele], he put every quality a footballer needs; speed, strength, impulse, technique, kicking ability, heading, dribbling – all of it, everything that a player might have. Few people could jump like him for a header. He is 170 centimetres tall. His foundations are perfect, [he had] mastery of the ball, [and mastery of] headers. He improved in every way. Everything you can imagine from a player, Pele has done it.”

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Known in his playing days as the White Pele, Zico accepts Messi does possess most of the qualities needed by the very best, though he feels a lack of success on the international stage is a big part of what sets Pele and Maradona apart from him. “[Messi has] almost everything, but he doesn’t have the World Cup titles that Pele has. This [means] a lot,” the Flamengo icon said.

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What do you make of Zico’s comments?