We get it that Pele still thinks he’s the greatest player alive. I’m guessing that most football fans over 50 believe he’s the best ever. I get that he’ll always prefer Brazilian players to Argentinians, it’s understandable. But he’s got to stop making these ridiculous claims that Neymar is a better player than Lionel Messi.
Quick fact check. Neymar turned 20 last February. He’s played for Santos since he was 11, getting his first chance with the senior team shortly after his 17th birthday. He has scored 40 league goals in 85 matches for Pele’s former club. He has scored 10 goals in 22 Copa Libertadores matches. His total scoring record for Santos is 96 goals in 175 matches. Titles? He has them too. Two Paulista (The Sao Paulo league) titles, one Copa Libertadores.
There’s no doubt that Neymar is the biggest Brazilian talent right now, definitely in the Brasileirao and probably in the whole world among the Brazilians. This isn’t a weak local league. A better financial situation in Brazil means a stronger league, and less players leaving to Europe. The best talent always leaves, but so far Santos have been able to hang on to Neymar despite the fat purse offers from Europe, mostly from Real Madrid.
And now to Messi, who’s numbers we’ve been over a few times during the last couple of seasons. League – 158 goals in 208 matches. Champions League – 51 goals in 66 matches. A total of 241 goals in 320 matches for Barcelona, closing in on his 25th birthday. Titles – Five La Liga titles (one without really being involved), three Champions League titles. Neymar actually crossed paths with Messi in the Barcelona – Santos Clubs World Cup final four months ago. Not exactly fair.
And although it isn’t exactly fair to compare two players when they play for completely different teams, as Messi probably has the best or second best group of players surrounding him, it’s pretty idiotic to say Neymar is equal than Messi. Better than Messi? Better than any premier player who has been successful at the European top leagues consistently? Sorry, but that’s just lying to people and making a fool of yourself and those who actually buy into such rants.
Pele – Now everyone is talking about Messi, he is a star. But to be the best ever he must first become better than Neymar. At the moment Messi is just more experienced.
Pele has a problem with anyone challenging the out-dated perception of him being the greatest of all time. And although he’s won three World Cups with Brazil, scoring in two Finals, he never played for a European club. The differences between Brazil and Europe might not have been that great during the 1960’s, but it’s clear he hasn’t shown his talent, over a number of years, on the hardest stage.
So his tries to pump his legend into life once again, as his name is forgotten over the years, with figures like Maradona and later Ronaldo, Zidane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi making it harder and harder to remember what was so great about the Brazilian legend. Whatever his place in history is, and it probably depends on how old you are and what’s your nationality, there’s no way in hell that anyone can agree with Pele saying Neymar is better than Lionel Messi.