Pele does not consider compatriot Neymar to be a truly great player, suggesting one of his former Santos team-mates was “10 times better”.
The 75-year-old, who won the World Cup three times with Brazil, acknowledged the Barcelona forward is the best player in the current national team.
However, he believes Neymar’s shortcomings are his heading ability and lack of defensive awareness, claiming former Santos man Vasconcelos was a superior talent.
“Neymar is a good player, but how many goals has he scored with his head in his life,” Pele said in an interview with Placar.
“Is he an excellent player? He is, but Vasconcelos [Pele’s Santos team-mate between 1956 and 1958] was 10 times better than Neymar, without any doubt.
“Neymar is an attacker, he plays up front. That is it. He does not track back, does not organise and does not come out to play.
“It’s difficult to compare him with so many players of the past when he has deficits although within the current Brazil team, he is the main figure, the only one.”
Pele also offered his opinion on Neymar’s Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi.
He considers the Argentine to be the best in the modern era, but also pointed out a perceived weaknesses.
“Messi, I always said in the last 10 years he is one of the players I considered superior,” Pele said.
“But, for example, he doesn’t use his head. He predominantly uses his left [foot] and is not ambidextrous. And, today, he is the best.
“Messi has the same style as Maradona, the same kind of game. So he is lucky, because there is no one to compare him with.”