Pele has stoked the fire ahead of Saturday’s friendly between Brazil and Argentina, claiming Neymar is a more complete player than Lionel Messi.
The two players will be the star attractions in New Jersey when the South American rivals clash, having already met on two occasions.
Messi was the winner both times, scoring a magnificent individual effort to secure Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Brazil in 2010, before playing his part in a 4-0 thrashing of Santos in the Club World Cup final while in Barcelona colours.
Pele, writing for Argentine newspaper Ole, conceded the Barca star had the edge on the 20-year-old Santos starlet in terms of experience, but maintained that Neymar can do things on the pitch that were beyond Messi’s grasp.
“In a straight comparison Neymar is more complete, more technically proficient than Messi because he has more at his disposal. He can go down the right or left, he hits both sides of the rival defence,” he said.
“Messi tends to move down the left, but he has more experience and he plays in a more demanding football league.
“Neymar has an advantage in that he hits the ball well with both feet. But he struggles when he plays against European or Latin defences. Having the responsibility of always having to save the team is a heavy burden. It cannot be like that forever.”
Brazil have recorded two wins and a draw in their latest friendly tour with a team composed principally of Under-23s, as they prepare for the London Olympics.
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