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Messi and Pele are two of the best players to have ever graced the game, and picking one over the other would appear to be a difficult task. Today, Scott Fujita has selected a few key features to analyze how Messi vs Pele stack up against one another.

Pele is one of the best players in history. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi, who won a seventh Ballon D’or, has superior agility and a diverse repertoire of skills. They are well-known for creating many hat trick records in world cups.

Let’s dive right into the details!

Lionel Messi Vs Pele: Who Deserves The Title Of Football Legend?

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It’s hard to tell who is the better player between these football talents. So, we compiled several key features about their plays to give you a better insight into Pele and Messi. 

View more: Who is the best soccer player in the world

Playing Position

Pele – Center Forward: 

  • The New York Cosmos former player was primarily a center-forward who can drop deep to play a more passive role or as a second striker occasionally.
  • The Brazilian’s talent and uniqueness were marked by his flashy flair and ability to wrestle past the defenders.

Messi – Winger/Forward:

  • On the other hand, Messi scored points first as a striker before transitioning to a right-winger over time. 
  • He is a playmaker who prefers to control the game’s pace with the ball in his hands and make storming runs down the sides, allowing him to cut in and score with his left foot.

Key Strengths

messi vs pele


Pele – Clinical Finisher, Aerial Ability, Physicality, Weak Foot Ability

  • Pele grew up when there were no red or yellow cards, and attacks from behind were still deemed acceptable. When hits in football were as standard as MMA takedowns, he possessed a solid physical presence and could glide past opponents at ease.
  • He had many tricks in his sleeves and would use his legendary “feints” and his signature technique, the “dribble da vaca,” to take on enemies in the monumental stadium. 
  • For week foot skill, Pele was one of the greatest. He was a prolific striker and a clinical finisher. He had no chinks in his shell and was a challenge for defenders to cope with because of his excellent heading skills and an unequaled desire for goals scored.
  • His incredible brilliance on the court, with his tendency to score stunning international goals, cemented his status as the best player of his generation. 

Messi – Dribbler, Agility, Acrobat, Finisher, Vision, Positioning

  • The small Argentine’s low center of gravity, at 5′ 7″, allows him to squirm past opponents easily. He makes up for his lack of physical strength with superior agility and a diverse repertoire of skills.
  • Those who have paid close attention to Messi know that curving the ball past goalkeepers is a breeze for this South American player. That’s why he and Cristiano Ronaldo are Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
  • That, along with his natural set-piece brilliance (Messi has one of the most effective direct free-kick conversion rates in Europe’s top five leagues.) He is also a fantastic talent for outsmarting opponents with blindside runs, making him a better all-around creative genius. 
  • It does not take a scientist to figure out why he’s universally considered as one of the top professionals to have ever played the beautiful game, given his quick agility, scorching pace, and tactical knowledge to drag defenders out of their positions. 
  • Even if this player who used to play for Catalan club, isn’t a true center-forward, his most goals (average of 5 per 90 minutes in La Liga this season) should be enough to make even the most potent attackers envious.
  • Even the top players in the game, as they say, have their flaws, and Messi is no exception. 
  • That means Messi isn’t the greatest when it comes to scoring goals with his weaker right foot, and he’s also lacking in the aerial department, averaging just 0.3 aerial duels per game in La Liga this season.
  • Lionel Messi seemed to need more games to beat the single club goal-scoring record held by the Brazilian superstar, Pele, but he achieved so in less seasons. You can rely on this related video to enjoy this moment.

  • Pele shared his respect for Messi who has exhibited the same passion and dedication to Santos as he did for over two decades. “When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path. I know what it’s like to love wearing the same shirt every day. I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home.” he said.

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They Are Excellent Football Talents.

Lionel Messi Vs Pele Stats

Let’s look at these international level Pele vs Messi stats to see how great they are!

Related: Pele Vs Maradona Or Messi Vs Ronaldo

Messi Pele
Overall Games 153 90
Starts 139 87
Sub appearances 14 3
Goals 79 77
Penalty goals 17 3
Minutes per goal 160 92
Minutes per non-penalty goal 204 95
Friendlies Games 47 64
Goals 34 51
Penalty goals 7 3
Percentage of total goals 43% 66%
Minutes per goal 106 93
Minutes per non-penalty goal 134 99
World Cup qualifiers Games 53 6
Goals 26 6
Penalty goals 7 0
Percentage of total goals 33% 8%
Minutes per goal 173 86
Minutes per non-penalty goal 237 86
Copa America at Buenos Aires  Games 34 6
Goals 13 8
Penalty goals 3 0
Percentage of total goals 16% 10%
Minutes per goal 224 66
Minutes per non-penalty goal 291 66
World Cup Games 19 14
Goals 6 12
Penalty goals 0 0
Percentage of total goals 8% 16%
Minutes per goal 271 105
Minutes per non-penalty goal 271 105

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this comparison of Messi vs Pele will satisfy you. If you have any questions about these soccer or football legends, please feel free to contact us at Scott Fujita!

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