Safe to say it hasn’t been the best week for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
On Monday the Argentine not only missed out on the Ballon d’Or for a third year running but placed a disappointing fifth in the rankings.
Luka Modric won the award, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe occupying the rest of top four.
But there’s been a lot of debate about the way the Ballon d’Or and its rankings are decided, because no one had a better individual season than Messi.
Barcelona’s star man scored more goals than anyone in Europe in 2017/18 and also achieved the La Liga and Copa del Rey double.
As for Modric, Griezmann and Mbappe, their high finishes were largely based on collective achievements, such as Modric winning the Champions League and Mbappe winning the World Cup.
It seems there is still a lot of confusion about whether the Ballon d’Or should go to the world’s best player or the player who has won the most silverware.
Things have got worse for Messi in recent days, though, after the 31-year-old was panned by none other than Brazil legend Pele.
In a recent interview with Folha de Sao Paulo, the former striker addressed suggestions that Messi is the greatest player of all time and was pretty brutal about it.
Pele said Messi “only shoots with one leg, only has one skill and doesn’t head the ball well” as a way of proving he was a better player than the Argentine in his heyday.
“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?” said Pele, per Goal.
“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, [Diego] 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.”
Wow. It’s very rare that anyone is so critical of Messi, but clearly Pele was rattled by the idea that he wasn’t as good as the Barca forward.