Brazilian footballing royalty Pele has downplayed the ability of Argentine superstar Lionel Messi by declaring that the Barcelona man has to “score 1,000 goals” like he did until we can really start talking about his pedigree.
Reigning Ballon d’Or winner and World Footballer of the Year Messi has been in scintillating form this season, scoring 40 goals in 44 club games, and his four-goal haul against Arsenal in the Champions League last week has led some to compare the attacker with the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele.
But, the Brazilian has doubts over Messi’s ability and potential, and believes any comparisons should be put on hold until he scores 1,000 goals in his career as he did during the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
"They are always trying to compare someone to Pele," he said to The Daily Mail.
"I always joke with my Argentine friends that they must first choose who is the best player from Argentina.
"Then, when one of them scores a thousand goals, then we can start talking.
“Messi’s a great player. He plays very well for Barcelona, but has failed to show his talent with the Argentina team.
“Maybe he can at the World Cup. Let's wait and see.''
Pele’s quotes are certain to cause some more debate in the whole Argentina vs. Brazil rivalry leading up to the World Cup.