Ahead of one of the most anticipated El Clasicos in recent memory, Brazilian legend Pele has said that he believes Barcelonaa s Lionel Messi is a better player than Madrida s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo won his second Ballon da Or in January but has since struggled to produce the kind of form that saw him score more than 30 goals in the ongoing season till he won the award. Since then, the 30-year-old has scored only 9 goals, while Messi has got 20.
The 74-year-old, who won three World Cups with Brazil, compared the two as players and gave his verdict, quite categorically.
a They play a different kind of football, but I think Messi is more for the team, and gives more assists, whereas Ronaldo is more about scoring,” he told Goal in an exclusive interview.
a I think Ronaldo is a lot like Ronaldo Nazario from Brazil, he is the same style as him.
a If I had a team and had to choose, Ia d choose Messi. But both players are fantastic.a
When the Brazilian was asked whether he thought the two would have been able to score as freely in his time, he said that the two have timeless talent.
a No, I think they are good players who could play at any time. Even in my time, I managed to score more than 1000 goals,a he added.
While Messi will once again be the player Barcelona will look to for inspiration on Sunday, Pelea s compatriot Neymar will also look to leave his stamp on the match. So far, Neymar has scored 26 goals in 35 games this season.
Pele, however, expects more from Neymar, who is turned 23 in February, in the future.
a Listen, we always expect Neymar to play well… even myself, for example, because he is from Santos and I helped him when he was a youth,a he said.
a My son, Edinho, was a goalkeeper at Santos and was his coach there. Then everybody crossed their fingers hoping that Neymar would keep it going.
a He is a good player, no doubt. I think he needs a little bit more experience, but he has a great future.a