Diego Maradona: The Gap Between Messi and Neymar the Same as Between Me and Pele

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterJune 11, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JUNE 9: Neymar #11 of Brazil battles Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina during the first half of an international friendly soccer match on June 9, 2012 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Argentina legend Diego Maradona has compared the old rivalry between himself and Brazilian great Pele to the one between Lionel Messi and Neymar today, on the eve of the 2014 World Cup.

Both Barcelona players are expected to be key figures in the tournament—and both their teams are amongst the favourites for the tournament.

But in a straight comparison between the two, Maradona, quoted in AS, said there was a considerable gap in class.

Asked, "Who is Neymar for you?," Maradona replies:

Neymar today is Pele. In Brazil he is built up, everyone looks to him—you look forward and he is the big figure that Brazilian football has. After that, you have to say that the strength of Brazil is the middle of the field behind him.

Thereafter, it is put to him that Neymar is on a level lower than Messi:

Of course, enough with the stupidity. The distance between Messi and Neymar is the same as the one between Maradona and Pele.

Maradona expanded on Neymar in an exclusive World Cup column for the Times of India, admiring his talent but wary of his ability to settle the tournament:

Neymar is an exciting youngster with exceptional talent. What he did for Brazil in the Confederations Cup was extraordinary. But he is too young to light up a World Cup on his own.

There's nothing like a discussion on legends and would-be legends on the eve of a World Cup to get the blood racing for the tournament.

And there's very little time to wait before we establish whether Maradona's assessment of Neymar and Messi is an accurate one.