Sao Paulo: Brazilian football legend Pele has said he would pick Argentine forward Lionel Messi over his Portuguese counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo because of the former’s ability to create more opportunities than just score goals.
Ronaldo is the leading goal scorer in La Liga this season with 38 strikes and 12 assists while Messi has scored 34 times and set up 15. Pele says he does not want to choose between the two best forwards in the world but feels the Barcelona star has a slight edge.
"It's not that I like one of Messi or Cristiano more. When people ask me, I always say that you cannot compare them," Pele was quoted as saying by Spanish radio station ondacero.es.
"Cristiano is a great player, more forward, more of a scorer. Messi is a player who makes goals but also creates chances as a weapon in behind. The two would be very important but if I had to choose one it would be Messi."
The three-time World Cup-winner lauded the efforts of countryman Neymar, who the 74-year-old believes has Messi and Ronaldo within touching distance.
"Neymar is reaching the level of the best. He does not have the same experience as Messi or Cristiano. Sometimes people forget players like Andres Iniesta. It is very easy to play on a team with great players. It is an excellent school for Neymar," he said.
Pele, whom the world hails as one of the best footballers of all time alongside Argentine legend Diego Maradona, also put former France midfielder Zinedine Zidane on the same page.
"He was one of the best midfielders we've had in football. Zidane had more courage than I did. He was of the level of Maradona and Messi. People who saw Zidane with the ball at his feet knew that his head was complete too," he said.