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Lionel Messi Argentine star is better than Pele, Maradona - Pope Francis

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has been proclaimed the best ever footballer by Pope Francis.

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play Pope Francis and Lionel Messi

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has been proclaimed the best ever footballer by Pope Francis.

Barcelona and Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer, Messi has constantly been compared to past greats Pele and Diego Maradona, while going head-to-head with Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

But Pope Francis – the leader of the Catholic Church and a renowned San Lorenzo supporter – threw his support behind countryman Messi.

"For me, [Lionel] Messi is better than Maradona and Pele," Pope Francis was quoted as telling young men and women participating in World Youth Day.

Legendary Brazilian soccer player Pele poses for a portrait during an interview in New York, U.S., April 26, 2016. play Legendary Brazilian soccer player Pele poses for a portrait during an interview in New York, U.S., April 26, 2016. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

 

Messi endured a difficult Copa America Centenario, stunning the world when he announced his retirement from national team duty after Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the final.

Diego Maradona play

Diego Maradona

(Getty Images)

 

The 29-year-old, though, finally returned to the pitch as Barcelona kicked off their LaLiga preparations with a 3-1 win over Celtic in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.

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