Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport via SportStar, Pelé said: “He [Messi] 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.”
But the 79-year-old admitted he feels the current era is not a golden one for football, and that the number of truly exceptional players is decreasing.
“Once, you found two or three in every country with a great football culture,” Pelé continued.
“Eusébio, [António] Simões, [Johan] Cruyff, [Franz] Beckenbauer, [Diego] Maradona, Garrincha, Didi. How many did I say? There were so many.
Injuries have disrupted Neymar at pivotal points in his career for club and country. He notably missed the 7-1 thrashing by Germany at the 2014 World Cup, while a lack of match sharpness meant he could only lead Brazil to the quarter-finals four years later. He then missed the 2019 Copa América as his country won on home soil.
Pelé has defended his countryman and hopes to see Neymar fit and firing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“I hope that at the next World Cup he is in good physical condition,” he added. “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.”