Former Brazil star Tostao has claimed that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were yet to reach the standards set by Brazilian football legend Pele. The man who savored World Cup glory alongside one all-time great considers his fellow countryman to top the Argentine and Portuguese superstars.

The Argentina and Portugal internationals have sent records tumbling, while helping themselves to enviable hauls of individual and collective honors. Many believe these exploits have lifted them above Pele, but Tostao still considers a man he won the 1970 World Cup alongside to be the finest player to have ever laced up a pair of football boots. He told “I think Pele was better than all of them. For me, there’s no comparison. Pele was far more complete. He had every quality that a forward could have. He didn’t have one defect. Messi’s spectacular, but he doesn’t head the ball like Pele did, he doesn’t shoot as well with both feet, he doesn’t pull off the moves that Pele did. Cristiano Ronaldo is an exceptional player, but he doesn’t have the ability that Pele had and he doesn’t pull off the incredible passes that Pele did. If you take the qualities of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, put them together, then you’d have a player to compare to Pele!” Tostao also gave his take on whether Maradona sits alongside Pele, saying of the Argentine World Cup winner: “Maradona was spectacular, but he wasn’t on Pele’s level physically, he didn’t score the numbers of goals Pele did.” Pele has always placed himself at the top of any chart, with the South American rightly proud of all that he achieved. He has, however, admitted in the recent past that he considers Portuguese power to sit above Argentine flair when running a rule over the current crop of superstars. Pele told Pilhado when asked to offer his input in a long-running debate: “Today the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo. I think he’s the best, because he’s more consistent, but you can’t forget about Messi, of course, but he’s not a striker.”

The Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate is one that has gone on for over a decade, in what is also a testament to how long they have managed to dominate world football. Both Ronaldo and Messi have had glorious careers so far, with both yet to draw curtains on their dominance. With Ronaldo and Messi winning nearly every possible piece of silverware there is to win for a professional footballer, comparisons have also been drawn to yesteryear legends. Despite Tostao and Pele’s comments, Messi and Ronaldo, to use Pele’s words, cannot be simply set aside. The duo’s contribution to football is unparalleled, something that is well reflected in their stats. The two have combined to win 11 Ballon d’Or awards, along with nine Champions League titles. The duo has crossed the 700-goal mark individually and are undisputed legends of the game. What do you think?