Lionel Messi v Neymar

Diego blasts Pele's Messi-Neymar claim

April 13, 2012
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Argentina legend Diego Maradona has called Brazilian counterpart Pele "stupid" for suggesting that Barcelona star Lionel Messi is not as good as Santos starlet Neymar.

Neymar and Messi
GettyImagesNeymar and Lionel Messi could prove a lethal force if combined in Barcelona's attack

• Pele: Messi not as good as Neymar

"Maybe Neymar is the best player in the world, but only if you say that Messi is from a different planet," Maradona said.

Messi, 24, won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2009 and scooped the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010 and 2011, while rising-star Neymar, 20, landed FIFA's Puskas Award for the best goal of 2011.

Despite Messi's raft of trophies and personal awards, Pele believes his countryman Neymar, who has won the Brazilian league and Copa Libertadores with his old club Santos, is the better player.

"Now everyone is talking about Messi; he is a star. But [to be the best ever] he must first become better than Neymar," Pele said. "At the moment Messi is just more experienced."

However, Maradona, who has traded insults with Pele on more than a few occasions, laughed off the claims. "My God, that is just stupid," Maradona said as he backed fellow Argentinian Messi.