Zico ranks Leo Messi, Diego Maradona and Pele in terms of greatness

Zico doesn't think Messi has proven he is greater than Maradona or Pele

Lionel Messi has had an extraordinary career.

After bursting onto the scene for Barca in the 2004/05 season, Messi has gone on to win it all for the club.

He's helped his side to nine La Liga titles and four Champions League triumphs. 

Individually, he's scored 573 times in 657 games for Barca and has is a five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Many of the younger generation that have watched the Argentine player believe he is the greatest footballer of all time.

But is that the case?

Two other names that also crop up when thinking of the best players in the history of football are Diego Maradona and Pele.

Of course, it is hard to compare the three given they played in different generations.

But one man that has had the fortune of watching all three play is former Brazilian star, Zico.

Zico and Diego Maradona during a charity match

Now 65 years old, Zico wasn't a bad player himself and has gone down as one of Brazil's best ever players.

After professional football, he ventured into management, so he knows a thing or two about the game.

And he has now given his honest opinion of Messi compared to Maradona and Pele.

Controversially, Zico claims the 31-year-old is not on their level... yet.

Zico still considers Pele to be the greatest of all time

He still considers his compatriot, Pele, to be the greatest player to ever play football.

Speaking to Omnisport, per FourFourTwo, Zico said: "Messi is close to Maradona.

"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.

"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.

Pele helped Brazil to three World Cup titles

"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."

Zico then used Messi's limited success for Argentina as reasons why Maradona and Pele are ahead of him.

"[Messi has] almost everything, but he doesn't have the World Cup titles that Pele has," he continued. "This [means] a lot.

"Because, I think Maradona played, like in our period, with a player in his back all the time. Maradona has done a lot for his clubs, as Messi does, and for the Argentina national team. Maradona was a world champion.

Zico thinks Leo Messi isn't the greatest of all time... yet

"Maradona has always stood out in the big competitions, and in a moment where Argentina was not a favourite with so many stars, like today, [when they have] high-level players in the big European teams.

"I think he didn't play in a team like Messi plays in for Barcelona today. He didn't have a [Gerard] Pique, an [Andres] Iniesta, a [Luis] Suarez, a Xavi or a Neymar beside him like Messi has today."

Of course, at 31 years old, Messi still has a few years left to achieve even more success in football.

Maybe, by the time he retires, Zico will change his mind about Messi when it comes to his greatness.

News Now - Sport News