Lionel Messi is considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, football players of all time. However, this did not stop the late Brazilian legend Pele from criticizing the Argentine international for being one-footed in 2018.
The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) forward solidified his legacy by adding the 2022 FIFA World Cup to his long list of 42 major trophies for club and country. The Argentine ace currently has an astonishing seven Ballon d'Ors to his name and could win his eighth later this year.
Moreover, the former Barcelona man has accumulated 797 goals and provided 350 assists in 1011 appearances for both club and country. He has enjoyed a second season with PSG with 21 goal contributions in 19 appearances across competitions.
The GOAT debate between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has been raging on for the past decade. However, the legendary Pele didn't entertain being compared to the former.
The three-time World Cup winner, who was labeled "The Greatest" by FIFA, slammed Messi for being one-footed and for his weakness in heading the ball. He even claimed the Argentine 'can't compare to him'. He spoke to Folha de Sao Paulo, saying:
“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.”
Unfortunately, Pele passed away at the age of 82 on December 29, 2022, due to multiple organ failure.
"Most complete player" - Recall when Pele changed his mind about Lionel Messi
Despite his controversial opinion on the 35-year-old in 2018, Pele seemed to have changed his mind a year later. He described the PSG forward as the most complete player in the modern game.
When asked who he would most want to play alongside by Chris Burton (via Gazzetta dello Sport), Pele responded:
"I think Leo Messi. He is a skilled player, gives assists, passes, scores, dribbles well. If we were in a team together, the opponents would have to worry about two players, not just one. Today Messi is the most complete player."
Prior to his death, after Argentina won the World Cup, Pele shared an emotional post on Instagram congratulating the Argentine captain for his accomplishment.
Both players are legends of the sport and it is great to see the respect and admiration they had for one another at the end before Pele's passing.