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Pele: Neymar can surpass Messi

Brazilian legend Pele believes compatriot Neymar can become a better footballer than Lionel Messi following his move to Barcelona.

The 20-year-old completed a 57 million euro move to the Liga champions from Santos on Monday.

He will now line-up alongside Argentine talisman Messi, who many consider to be the best player currently active, if not of all time.

However, Pele, who spent 18 years with Santos and won three World Cups during his career, feels the new man at Camp Nou can surpass Messi’s achievements.

“I think it is good for him because, no doubt, Neymar was one of the best players in Brazil and he needed experience of playing outside,” Pele told Perform.

“Of course, to play in Europe is a little different to playing in South America, because the football in Europe is a little more tough. South America is a little more ball control, more technical. It will be a little tough for him to get experience, but no doubt, with Messi and Barcelona, he has a good team, and it will be easy for him to play.

“I always wonder when people ask me for a comparison. I say, ‘If you see Neymar, it’s not the same experience of watching Messi. Messi is ten years in front because he has more experience than Neymar, who has two years.

“Neymar can kick with both feet, he’s good in the air. He has a different style. That’s what I try to explain to people, but both, of course, are good players.

“I love Messi. I’ve admired Messi for a long time, but to make the comparison, I think that Neymar has the possibility to play better than Messi.”

Neymar made 220 appearances in all competitions during his time at Santos, scoring 124 goals.

He will join up with his new Barcelona team-mates following the FIFA Confederations Cup, which begins on June 15.
Wed 5 Jun, 2013
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  1. Brad says:

    dunno what to say here really. Yes, Neymar can become greater than Messi, there’s a possibility that’s going to be around for a while, but I don’t think Neymar can do it.

  2. Vince says:

    Pele is a great player but not a good talent spotter. Neymar will do well at barca coz of talented n team players thr. Individually hes not thr amongst d great category of players. Iniesta n xavi r d real backbone of barca n real professionals of d game. Take them out n barca becomes ordinary. Ronaldo is better than neymar anytime.

  3. As a three-time World Cup winner, Pele’s statements are always there for one to ponder. To play for Barcelona, a team with World class champion players, is an edge for Neymar.

  4. Brad says:

    Vince has a point about iniesta and xavi. However, they don’t become ordinary. They just lose a big part of their creativity.

  5. cj says:

    Yea pele was a great player but when it comes to talents,he shuld keep quiet.neymarsigning for barca is good 4 him.its time for him to prove himself and stop been overated

  6. cloud says:

    in terms of talent, Neymar has the potential. but in terms of personality, i think he’ll be the next robinho. too much promise and failed big time.

    but once again, if Neymar scores goals the dynamic duo of Iniesta and Xavi will again be unnoticed.

  7. Brad says:

    as if we hadn’t seen that kind of thing happen already, right Cloud?

  8. EDR7CH says:

    Love n Respect to all players. Pele is great ,but he never played in Europe . if it was not for Diego Armando Maradona , Pele would have been honest with his comments. you never know he Neymar will be the Best..but let the talking be done on the pitch first. For now Messi is voted best footballer by FIFA . I guess Jury are great players themselves .

  9. Brad says:

    Here’s another example of ignorance, Cloud. . .

    Nowadays, you do have to play football in Europe to be one of the best, given how much more attention is showered on club football in Europe than club football on any other continent. This is a result of clubs there (notably Madrid and Barca) bringing in the world’s best to Europe.

    However, back then, the vast majority of players tended to stay in their home countries or move to a neighboring nation, whether the player is of European, North/South American, or some other continental background.

    Because of this, there was no need to leave for Europe, and the top players could stay home and still be called the best. It wasn’t until after Pele’s retirement from Santos and subsequent move to the NASL that Europe became hands down the most essential equation to a player’s recipe for personal success.

    Think before you talk.

  10. Jose says:

    He can surpass messi..
    Escpexialy if messi has to go to jail for 6 years .__.

  11. Jose says:


  12. cloud says:

    brad, you are right on that point. Football today is more competitive but at the same time, it’s more commercialized.

    but as to compare the Brazilian League and Europe, i have to say that in Brazil it’s much tougher coz the referees there are much lenient. They’re virtually doing kickboxing in Brazil. But the mental challenge in Europe is bigger than anywhere else.

    but as for Neymar going to Barca, i would say, it’s a bad move. How can he improve when he is in an already established team?? And how can Pele say that Neymar has the potential to play better than Messi when they’re on the same team ??

  13. Brad says:

    Good question. . ..

  14. Argentina says:

    He does not love Messi. He’s been saying negative things for years and now he loves him (as he says another negative thing about Leo).

  15. Brad says:

    and you would be the one to talk eh?

  16. James says:

    Pele is always criticising Messi. He’s gone on record on many occasions saying that as Messi hasn’t won any World Cups, he’ll never be as good as he was. He goes on to say that the players of his era were better than those today, suggesting that Messi versus easier opposition.

    Here’s what we know:
    Messi has won Ballon d’Or 4 times in a row – more than any other player IN HISTORY. He looks like winning several more before the end of his career. This also now the FIFA World Player of the Year meaning he’s won that 4 times, again – more than any player in history.

    Messi has won six La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two Super Cups and two Club World Cups.

    Messi has broken or matched every record that exists within his control. Now remember that he’s only just turned 26 meaning he could and should go on to further this. Argentina are a very good team but it’s impossible for one player to win a World Cup. He cannot be judged on his. There have been players of a much lower calibre than Messi win numerous World Cups due to their country’s depth of talent.

    Neymar COULD surpass Messi. It is likely? No. Will he develop into a phenomenal/consistent player and win Ballon d’Or? Maybe. There have been many special and memorable players who have had amazing careers without receiving the accolade.

  17. thatgirl says:

    I doubt neymar will surpass messi, maybe if he cooled it with those dives. He’s looking more like a ronaldo to me, not a fan. Nevertheless he’s got the talent. I know he’ll develop playing along side messi and iniesta

  18. Super Skilled Fifa Player says:

    All Messi does is dive and cheat. The more free kicks he scores from diving and cheating the more harder it will be to “surpass” that cheat.

  19. soccerfever says:

    There is no doubt that Neymar is a fantastic player.He is a combination of Ronaldinho and a Robinho.In time he will most likely be in the list with the greatest players of all time and COULD even surpass messi.At the moment I think Messi is the greatest player of all time.I have watched dvds of both pele and maradona.These players were more successful than messi because of the players that they were surrounded buy great players who helped them achieve there best unlike argentina today however they have started to click together with messi as star.they have a very good chance of winning the wcup.

    I am a huge fan barca and I love both Neymar and Messi but unless Neymar stays disciplined and messi stops playing magical football Neymar ishas a very thin chance of becoming the greatest

  20. soccerfever says:

    and to Super Skilled Fifa Player I say you need to stop being a looser and start writing things that everybody knows is true because I watch most of barcas matches and he is recognised as a player that is very difficult to take down and who doesnt go down without a fight.He defenitely does not dive all the timemaybe 1 or 2 times but otherwise he does not dive because he and everyone know he is the best and of the most disciplined players in the world

  21. drillmaster says:

    is this a us football site or what as the quality of comments are rather crap. pele and maradona of course 2 of greatest ever players. There is no way to compare these legends as they played different eras. Messi and Neymar there is no no point talking about yet. Neymar is a very very good prospect and looks like he’s gonna be great. But Pele must be on magic mushrooms to say that crap

    Its just brazilian nationalism giving him rose tinted glasses

    Messi and C Ronaldo are both gonna fight it out to become the greatest player in history

    Messi is winning so far but ron aint far behind. Ronaldo has more goals than games for madrid and i know hes played bout 200 since his arrival so it must be 201 goals

    Messi has had a unbelievable run last 3 yrs. Neymar if he is going to be compared, needs to score more than 1 goal a game at barca to have any chance of being compared to ron and messi

  22. Brad says:

    typical hater, of any kind. need something more convincing than that, especially after calling this site crap.

    the crap comments are coming from messi fans, most of it anyway.

    and you must be on the magic mushrooms if you think Messi and Ronaldo are fighting to be the best player in history. They’ve got the pedigree at club level, partly thanks to their own skill, partly in thanks to teammates- same with Pele, but his individual performances were superior at international level to the point that he himself was the crown jewel on a star-studded side, whilst Messi and Ronaldo are the crown jewels for, while still potent, but lesser national teams.

  23. sAifUl says:

    whAt d **** r u all tAlking abt… :O ???I knw NeymAr iz a talEnted n skilLfUl plAyer,bt onlY skilLs cAnt guAranteE u goAls.. u hAve 2 be coNsisteNt. N d tÓpic of coMpariNg nEymAr n d little magiCian mesSi… ha..ha.. 😉 its funNy bcZ lets think serioUsly.. neymAr plAyed in a simplE leAgue ‘Brasileiro’ wheRe theRe are simple teaMs n defEnders.. bt tAlking abt mesSi,he plAys in 1 of d m0st dominAting teAms n in 1 ov d mOst hard leAgue’s wheRe he fACes woRld clasS teAms n defenderS bt still jUzt seE his recÓrds… mesSi stilL hAs a loNg wAy 2 go.. n letz seE wat cAn neymAr do in eUrope.. gv him sm time 2 get adjUst to style of plAying at bArcA n if aftr dAt his reCords are gÓod enUf,,dAn we mAy think of compariNg ‘n’and ”m”.. 🙂

  24. Pure24 says:

    Sticking to topic, Neymar CAN surpass Messi. Bale CAN surpass Messi. I CAN surpass Messi… There’s nothing wrong with speculation. And who’s to say Neymar is not already better than Messi?
    Messi has not broken EVERY record there is; and if we go by competition awards, then Ryan Giggs SHOULD BE the best player to have EVER!
    This choosing the best player thing is simply subjective and hence people will always disagree…

    Out of topic though… Its funny how when people criticize Pele, they forget that he has NEVER said Messi is not good – that Messi is among the best… Here, he says Neymar CAN be… (Pele is Brazilian; by virtue of nationality he is bound to root for his fellow countryman). Its being a hypocrite to trash Pele’s behavior while we too support our fellow citizens

  25. sanjib banik says:

    rubbish !! neymer himself don’t talk this types of think

  26. lorenzo says:

    Messi dives and cheats?……I don’t think so buddy…..Messi is the real deal and has proven to be the best in the world year after year…Lots of respect for Pele, but I don’t think Neymar will ever be the player Messi is…..

  27. Erexco says:

    I don’t think like Pele . Messi moves very fast and quickly. 90% Barca always win when they had Messi in role , they play so good together. No Neymar No problem, but No Messi is a terrible problem … In the past Bayern 7-0 Barca (without Messi)

  28. Pure24 says:

    Four flaws with your comment;
    1. No Neymar No problem? I will refer you to the 2013 Confederations Cup and the achievements of Santos to boot! Or if you do not believe me, ask Spain!!!
    2. No Messi is a terrible problem? Well, Argentina HAVE Messi… and apparently its a terrible problem!!!
    3. Messi WAS in the team when Barca lost 4-0 against Bayern (In fact, they lost by a smaller margin when he WASN’T in the team).
    4. Wow. So NOW you’re better than the Barca scouts who brought you Ronaldinho, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas!!!

  29. Erexco says:

    Dear Pure24.

    Thank for your advice. I’m sorry guy. I know I’m not a soccer player,I’m not a soccer manager,and I’m not a scout. I just want to share my opinion with Peles’ idea . I just said what I seen and all I said fact. check youtube and watch the video Barcelona VS Bayern Munich again and please find where the messi. He doing what ? He played ? How many shots in that game ? Please look at ur mistake before U catch others people mistake. I respect ur comment . U are very right and I’m sorry about everything that I did worng . I’m happy to get more advice from U.

  30. Am sure that Neymar can do it better than the rest of the players.

  31. herbie samcare says:

    neymar is going to do wonders!!!!

  32. Pure24 says:

    Actually; you don’t have to SEE Messi in the game for him to be there. Even better, check the match review for FCB Vs. FCB (Hehehe) at the Allianz Arena and you’ll see Messi right there!!!
    And better… the goal Robben scored; when Muller blocked Jodi Alba? That attack started in Bayern’s half, at the opposite flank when Ribery dribbled MESSI and left him on the ground!
    No disrespect meant dear Erexco, just that my opinion is that Neymar is almost 6 years younger than Messi – at such a similar age difference, Ronaldinho was stealing the show and most said there will be none greater than him!!! Enter Messi…

    So at Neymar’s potential skill level, he COULD be better than him. I’m not saying Messi’s no good, and neither is Pele. Pele is also not saying Neymar is better than Messi RIGHT NOW (though an important note is that he’s not also saying Nermar is NOT better than Messi)!
    Its simply speculating; Messi replaced Ronadinho (8 years difference) and now Messi’s era is about to move on…

  33. VAZZ says:

    Just like messi,Neymar will do wonders in barca cos of the talented team mates…n might even surpass messi….

  34. Brad says:

    EXACTLY, VAZZ. That’s the point of the whole topic: Neymar MIGHT surpass Messi, just like Messi MIGHT surpass Pele!

    The key word is MIGHT!

    That’s what Messi fans (some of whom deserve to have quotation marks around the word fan, but not all) need to understand. They act as though Messi has already surpassed Pele, which he hasn’t, and they think what Pele is saying that Neymar has already surpassed Messi, which he hasn’t.

    We’re talking about future possibilities, people, HELLO! Not the here and now! The here and now is that Messi is superior to Neymar, and Pele is superior to Messi.

  35. george says:

    Vince says:
    June 6, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Pele is a great player but not a good talent spotter…….

    yea Vince. ur right. ronaldo is better than ney, but ney will show that hes better than “messi” 😉

  36. OTONG says:

    Let we see in a couple of month. Is Neymar can adapt more faster or just stuck and then sale to another clubs in europe.. Well i hope Neymar can be useful player in Camp Nou.

  37. Pure24 says:

    @Brad… That’s EXACTLY the point! People are simply taking this as challenging Messi’s skill level – nobody is doing that!!! Its a topic for another blog. Also, Messi fans quickly go after Pele – say what you will, he still holds the ultimate record!
    Not being a Messi fan, I’m not blind to his skill – I NEVER once even implied he’s no good!

    In a couple of months is not enough to see Neymar’s talent level – NEYMAR IS 20 FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!!
    It took Messi up to about the age of 23-24 for people to start with the ‘undisputed best EVER’ talk! Lets give the kid a chance – and its OBVIOUS Neymar is Messi’s replacement! The top hierarchy at Barca have already began to make plans to phase out the old players… Iniesta, Xavi, Messi… Well; its only logical.
    And its only a matter of time.

    Final mental note for the Pele Vs. Messi stuff – while Messi was living in Ronaldinho’s shadow as late as 22years old, and only has ONE World Cup goal to date, Pele won his first at age 17!!! Again, say what you may; the record still stands!

  38. Victor says:

    Pele may be a great player, but now he is threatened by Messi and now he relies on Neymar to slow messi down. I beg u, Neymar cannot dine with Messi is terms of talent. Talk about Ronaldo, Bale, Suarez, before u talk about little Neymar. common Pele, we talking about the best player ever. Messi is a players with the strongest killer instincts, he does not dance samba with the ball just to pls the crowd. Neymar simply reminds me of Robinho, nothing more

  39. Brad says:

    How is he threatened by Messi? The biggest threat to Pele’s reign as best ever was Maradona, and he still beat the Argentine!

    Messi ain’t no different. Pele is still comfortably the best ever and he’s got the right to remind us of that, and that’s what he’s doing.

  40. soccer lover says:

    stop this bull shit.No offence but For me pele never was a good player comparing to marodona. And stop supporting your own country players instead you know the truth that messi is far better than neymar.

  41. Brad says:

    here’s another stereotypical Messi supporter. Pure, should we even bother?

  42. Al says:

    it will be difficult 4 neymar to outshine messi now cos they are in de same team.maybe if messi leaves

  43. rau sean m says:

    Yeah everybody believes pele was a great player but what he is sayin bout messi must be outta jealousy though he talked bout lovin messi

  44. rau malual says:

    Pele u are talkin impossibilities

  45. Brad says:

    how can it be out of jealousy, when Pele had more success than Messi has had?

    jealous of someone who has less than you. . . that’s talking impossibilities right there.

  46. akshay says:

    I don’t think Neymar can surpasses Messi’s record & achievements.

  47. Key says:

    To my mind, unless Neymar proves himself over and over in Europe in the forthcoming years, he remains to be the result of media and commerce hype constantly promoting him as a would-be best player. It is too early for anyone to draw comparisons or projections as to who is going to surpass who. It is odd that Mr Pele with more expereince and knowledge than any of us should get involved in such an immature fuss. Unless he is trying to trigger some kind of conflict between the players under consideration, I would say he does not know what he is talking about.

  48. Dave says:

    Why do people CONSTANTLY try to prop Neymar up so much into something that he’s NOT yet?!! Neymar is NOWHERE NEAR Messi yet and in fact, Neymar is not even as good as other young players like Marco Reus, Ozil, Gotze, Hazard, El Sharwaay, Isco etc. Let’s just cool it with trying to say Neymar is SURE to become the next super player OK?

  49. Leonardo says:

    Seriously mate his like 20 years old look at the skill he has already. Messi just dives he is just a cry baby. To me i think he has already surpassed him

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