Lionel Messi “only has one skill”, according to Brazil legend Pele, with fellow Argentine Diego Maradona “much better” than the Barcelona talisman.
Having starred for the Liga heavyweights for well over a decade now, a mercurial talent of the modern era is considered to have established a standing as an all-time great.
There are many who consider Messi to be the finest player to have ever played the game, with a five-time Ballon d’Or winner boasting countless records and a stunning strike rate.
Pele, though, has suggested that the 31-year-old is one-dimensional and too reliant on his left foot to be compared to other iconic figures at the top of the world game.
A man who netted over 1000 goals in his career and won the World Cup on three occasions told Folha de Sao Paulo: “How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well?”
“How can you compare? To compare with Pele, it has to be someone who shoots well with the left, shoots well with the right, and scores headers.”
While placing himself above Messi in the all-time pecking order, Pele has also suggested that a number of other players sit above the Blaugrana star.
Fellow Argentine Maradona is considered to be one of the best ever, while iconic figures from Germany and the Netherlands are also held in the highest regard.
Pele added: “As far as I’m concerned, Maradona was one of the best players ever. If you ask me, ‘Was he better than Messi?’ Yes, he was. Much better.
“[Franz] Beckenbauer, [Johan] Cruyff were also excellent players.”
While Pele may not be Messi’s biggest fan, there is no questioning his achievements since bursting onto the scene at Barca.
A remarkable tally of 567 club goals have been recorded in 653 appearances, with another 65 netted in 128 outings for his country.
Messi has also won five Golden Balls, nine La Liga titles, four Champions League crowns and three Club World Cups.
International honours have proved elusive, though, having suffered final heartache at the World Cup and Copa America.