Lionel Messi is the fifth best player in the world, apparently.
That’s according to the results of the 2018 Ballon d’Or, where national team captains and managers and a select list of journalists voted to crown the best player of the year.
Yet you’ll have a hard time convincing the purists that Messi really is worse than Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.
Messi was let down by the fact that he didn’t feature in the latter stages of the Champions League and World Cup.
It would appear that his individual achievements, which included winning the European Golden shoe for a fifth time and providing the most assists in La Liga, were ignored.
But in Pele’s opinion, we may be talking too highly about Messi.
The Brazil legend gave an interview with Folha de Sao Paulo in which he dismissed the notion that Messi is a better player than he was.
Gary Lineker tweets after hearing Pele's comments
"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?" Pele said, with translation per Goal.
Pele’s opinion was always going to spark a reaction and Gary Lineker, who considers Messi to be the greatest player of all-time, has now weighed in with his own thoughts.
“If this is how you judge players then the same would apply to Maradona,” Lineker wrote on Twitter. “Utter nonsense.”
Well said, Gary.
It’s no secret that Messi favours his left foot but Pele need only cast his mind back to the World Cup, where the Argentinian forward scored a brilliant goal against Nigeria with his weaker right.
And what about his header for Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League final against Manchester United, which was perfectly placed to beat Edwin van der Sar?
To say that Messi only has one skill is absurd. Come on Pele, you’re much better than that.