Brazil legend Pele says Lionel Messi has outshone Cristiano Ronaldo as “best in the world” over the past decade.
Argentina and Barcelona star Messi, 27, edges Real Madrid and Portugal’s Ronaldo, 30, 4-3 in Ballon d’Or wins.
“At the moment people always try to compare Ronaldo with Messi [but] it’s a different style,” the three-time World Cup winner told the BBC’s Sportsweek.
The 74-year-old added: “They are two great players, but in the past 10 years the best in the world was Messi.”
Messi and Ronaldo are set to face each other in Sunday’s Clasico at the Nou Camp, with the home side a point ahead of their rivals at the top of La Liga.
In addition to their individual World Player of the Year honours, Real’s Ronaldo has three Premier League titles from his time with Manchester United, and one La Liga title. He has won the Champions League with both clubs.
Messi has won La Liga six times and the Champions League three times with Barcelona.
Pele continued: “Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, George Best – they were the same level as Messi. We had in Brazil Zico, Rivaldo.”
Pele previously told ESPN in January 2014 he thought Ronaldo had surpassed Messi, troubled with injury at the time, in recent seasons.
Meanwhile, Pele also says he thinks England would have more success at international competitions if they had more players at clubs in other countries.
“They don’t have the experience of playing abroad,” he said. “They don’t have players who have played in Africa, Japan or South America.
“This is one of the reasons why, when we have a big competitions, the players have a problem.
“But no doubt the level of football in England is one of the best in the world.”