Lionel Messi vs Pele: Dani Alves chooses football’s GOAT

Lionel Messi and Pele are two men who are in the conversation to be labelled the greatest footballer in history.

The two South Americans have each defined a generation, scoring goals for fun and wowing football fans around the world with almost frightening regularity.

According to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics, Messi and Pele are two of the three leading scorers in history, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi has 774 goals to his name at club and international level combined, while Pele is believed to have 762 – a figure that continues to be disputed to this very day, including by the man himself, who believes he has over 1,000.

But the numbers still speak for themselves and it’s why picking between the pair will forever remain an incredibly tough task.

But Pele’s fellow Brazilian Dani Alves has decided to give an opinion on the matter – and he’s certainly not let international bias cloud his judgement.

Speaking to ESPN journalist Hugo Sanchez, the full-back named chose to side with former Barcelona teammate and close friend Messi as football’s GOAT (Greatest of All TIme).

Lionel Messi and Dani Alves at Barcelona
BARCELONA, SPAIN – JANUARY 06: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (L) and Dani Alves of FC Barcelona reacts during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Alves on Messi vs Pele debate

“I stay with Pele for one reason: football has changed,” Alves said. “Messi changed a generation. All those people who are more than football, I’m going to stay with them.

“And besides, I’m Brazilian. For me, Pelé should not enter in that debate. If you ask me, who is the best player in history? I would say Messi. Pelé doesn’t fit in there.”

Fair play, Dani.

A lot of younger football fans will likely agree with that take from Alves, while those of the older generation who watched Pele in his pomp with Brazil and Santos may not.

Pele with Brazil in 1963
Brazilian professional footballer Pele pictured arriving at London airport with the Brazil national team ahead of their upcoming International Friendly match with England, London, 7th May 1963. (Photo by Tony Gibson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Alves on facing Ronaldo

In his interview session, Alves was asked about Ronaldo – another player who crops up in pretty much every single football GOAT debate.

The ageless PUMAS defender added: “Cristiano Ronaldo. This b*****d doesn’t let you breathe for a second. I didn’t do too badly, but it’s hard. He’s a scoring machine.”

Alves on retirement

The 39-year-old was also questioned about whether he intends to retire from the sport in the future and his response was pretty emphatic.

“I don’t like to think about the future because it’s always unknown,” Alves said. “I let life take me. If Messi passes me (in titles) I’m going to play until I’m 50.”

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