Lionel Messi can certainly be considered the best player of his era but Brazil great and former Barcelona team-mate Ronaldinho does not think he is the greatest of all time.

Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or earlier this month, taking him ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

While the Juventus star has shown signs of decline over the past year or so at 34, Messi – two years his junior – continues to sparkle in LaLiga with Barca.

Despite missing a chunk of the early-season action through injury, Messi already leads the scoring charts in Spain's top flight with 12 goals from just nine starts – Karim Benzema has 11 from 14.

The Argentina star's form has been particularly impressive over the past six weeks, netting 13 times in 10 games for club and country, most recently hitting a hat-trick in Barca's 5-2 triumph over Real Mallorca.

But Ronaldinho, who spent the best part of four years as Messi's team-mate, is uneasy about suggestions the forward is the greatest to ever play the sport.

Speaking at a charity event in Mexico, Ronaldinho said: "I'm glad for Messi because he's a friend, aside from the fact he's been a leader of Barcelona.

"I don't like comparisons because it's hard to identify who is the best in history. There's Diego Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo.

"I can't say that Messi is the best ever, but he is the best in his time."

It was the year of Easy Rider, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Midnight Cowboy, Kes and The Italian Job; Abbey Road, Let It Bleed, Dusty In Memphis and Kick Out The Jams.

OK boomer.

Woodstock was a totemic cultural moment in 1969 - but so too the first flight of the Boeing 747, the wedding and bed-in of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Stonewall riots and the first manned Moon landing, Neil Armstrong and all that jazz. And jazz. Miles Davis’ classic In A Silent Way split critics down the middle.

There was Monty Python's television debut but also the Manson Family murders and the ongoing Vietnam War. The US magazine Life revealed at least 12 million Americans had experimented with marijuana.

All very adult, magic meets toxic; spaceman versus off your face, man.

Little wonder then, that when Pele scored his 1,000th career goal on November 19 of that year he begged the world to please think of the children. The babes of US boomers may have been treated to the very first broadcast of Scooby Doo on CBS in September, but Pele knew the kids in Brazil were still being sold short as the end of the decade drew near.

"For the love of God, people," the 29-year-old Pele said in Rio de Janeiro, on that historic night. "Now that everyone is listening, help the children, help the helpless. That's my only wish at this very special time for me."

Tite has dismissed Lionel Messi's credentials as the greatest footballer of all time after insisting comparisons between him and "phenomenal" Brazil legend Pele have "no credibility." 

The Brazil coach and Messi exchanged words in Friday's game against Argentina, with Tite claiming the Barcelona forward told him to shut up during the friendly defeat in Riyadh.  

Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of Brazil legend Pele scoring his 1,000th goal and, speaking ahead of his side's clash against South Korea in Abu Dhabi the same day, Tite says three-time World Cup winner Pele remains out in front when it comes to the question of whether he or Messi is best.

He said: "Pelé is incomparable. Anybody who wants to compare Pelé to any other athlete...do you know what I do? I hear but I don`t listen.

"It's as if this person doesn't know the history of this man's quality... this guy was phenomenal. Once I said that Messi is extraordinary.

"I meant he's extraordinary to the present time and among humans, with his creativity. Pele is out of normal patterns and I'm not saying this because I'm a Brazilian. You can't find a defect.

"If somebody comes to me and starts to make comparisons, for me it has no credibility."

The loss to Argentina meant Brazil are now five matches without victory, yet Tite remains philosophical over the Copa America winners' form.

He added: "I'm not desperate to win. I'm happy to be where I am. I'm aware of the pressure but I have no desperation. I don't have any of this. What I do want is to make a great game."

Tite has warned South Korea's threat extends far beyond just that of Tottenham forward Son Heung-min.

He added: "We know about Korea's strengths, on their important victory against Germany [in the World Cup] and we respect them. We know about their individual forces, not only Son, but others and the team as a whole."

Brazil legend Pele believes Lionel Messi is the most complete player on the planet and one of "two or three" on par with the greats of previous eras.

The former Santos forward and three-time World Cup winner named Barcelona captain Messi, Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar as the select few deserving to be discussed as the world's best.

Messi, 32, and Ronaldo, 34, have long dominated the game's most coveted individual awards but are reaching the latter stages of their highly decorated careers.

Selecao star Neymar became the most expensive player in history when he moved from Barca to PSG in 2017, but for Pele there is a clear standout among the trio.

"I think of Leo Messi," he told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked who he would most like to play alongside.

"He is a skilled player, gives assists, passes, scores, dribbles well. If we were in the team together, the opponents should worry about two players, not just one! Today, Messi is the most complete player."

However, when balancing the leading players of today compared to those of the past, he lamented a perceived lack of true stars.

"Once, you found two or three in every country with a great football culture," the 79-year-old said.

"Eusebio, Simoes, Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Maradona, Garrincha, Didi. How many did I say? There were so many.

"Today we have two or three in all. Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, I would say Neymar, who in Brazil has not yet managed to become a great figure."

That would change if Neymar inspired the country to glory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which will mark two decades since the South American nation's most recent triumph.

"I hope that at the next World Cup he is in good physical condition," Pele said.

"People criticise him, I even did it a few times, but we forget that he is a product of ours, of Santos. We always want the best for him. I talk about him often with his father.

"Technically, he is an excellent player."

England's World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks has died, aged 81.

Former Leicester City and Stoke City player Banks was capped 73 times for his country and was an ever-present as Alf Ramsey's team claimed glory on home soil in 1966.

Widely recognised as one of the finest goalkeepers in the history of the game, Banks produced one of the World Cup's most iconic moments four years later by pulling off an astonishing reaction save to keep out a header from Brazil great Pele in Mexico City.

A bout of illness ruled Banks out of the quarter-final clash against West Germany, who gained revenge for their 1966 final defeat as Peter Bonetti deputised.

Banks helped Stoke to the League Cup in 1972, the club's only major honour and one he won with Leicester eight years earlier, before a car accident in October of that year cost him the sight in his right eye.

That meant the end of Banks' illustrious career in England at the age of just 34, although he did enjoy a swansong in the North American Soccer League, representing Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1977 and 1978 and renewing acquaintances with the likes of George Best, Pele and Carlos Alberto.

A statement from Banks' family, published on Stoke's website, read: "It is with great sadness that we announce that Gordon passed away peacefully overnight. 

"We are devastated to lose him but we have so many happy memories and could not have been more proud of him.

"We would ask that the privacy of the family is respected at this time."

Pele has belittled Lionel Messi as a player who only has "one leg" and "one skill".

The Brazil great is regarded by many observers to the greatest footballer of all time but has seen this status come under scrutiny on account of Messi's phenomenal exploits for Barcelona over the past decade.

Indeed, three-time World Cup winner Pele does not even think Messi is the best Argentinian player in history – telling Folha de Sao Paulo that Diego Maradona was "much better".

"How can you make a comparison between a guy who heads the ball well, shoots with the left, shoots with the right and another who only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn't head the ball well?” Pele said, comparing his own playing attributes to the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"How can you compare? To compare with Pele, it has to be someone who shoots well with the left, shoots well with the right, and scores headers.

"As far as I'm concerned, Maradona was one of the best players ever. If you ask me, 'Was he better than Messi?' Yes, he was. Much better.

"[Franz] Beckenbauer, [Johan] Cruyff were also excellent players."

Messi led Barca to a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double last season, the ninth and sixth times respectively the four-time Champions League winner has claimed those trophies.

The 31-year-old has scored 41 goals and supplied 20 assists in 45 matches across all competitions in 2018, giving him more goal involvements than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

Nevertheless, this was only good enough to give him a fifth-place finish in this week's Ballon d'Or vote, as Real Madrid's Luka Modric walked off with the main prize – the first time since 2006 Messi has not attained a podium place at the prestigious gala.

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