Lionel Messi has been dishing out stellar performances for Barcelona this season. He scored his 50th career hat-trick on Saturday as he led Barca to a 4-2 win over Sevilla. The win helped the Blaugrana stay 10 points ahead of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table, although the latter have an extra game in hand.
Many on social media have since pointed a striking similarity between the images of Messi celebrating his second goal of the game to that of an iconic photograph of Brazilian great Pele. The image in question is from the 1970 World Cup in Mexico that Brazil went on to win. Pele can be seen hoisted up by Jairzinho who has his back to the camera, much like Dembele in the pic from Saturday’s match.
Apart from it being images of two players who are each considered by many fans and experts as the greatest to play the game, the comparison also carries with it an extra undertone thanks to Pele’s recent comments on Messi. The three-time World Cup winner said that comparisons should never be made between him and the Argentina captain.
"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?" the 78-year-old was quoted as saying by The Mirror. As luck would have it, the image is that of Messi celebrating his second goal of the night, which was scored with an inch-perfect chip over the keeper off his right foot.
Is it me or Messi scored withe right foot and did Pele celebration to annoy him pic.twitter.com/nLVzNUxpTQ
- Mustapha.Dwope (@pulkol_brian) 23 February 2019
One-club goalscorers. Both are all time top goal scorers for their clubs:
Pele 643 goals for Santos
Messi 585 goals for Barca
Messi needs 58 more goals to
reach Pele. pic.twitter.com/UloY9KgOxX
- Barca Galaxy (@barcagalaxy) 23 February 2019
Not only did Messi make Pele sound stupid but he added salt to the wound with this celebration pic.twitter.com/dqmwRBXmYK
- #ValverdeOut (@433fcbarca2) 23 February 2019
The comments come as a surprise considering the fact that Pele has praised Messi on numerous occasions in the past, even pitching in on the eternal Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate by saying that he would select the Barcelona no. 10 over his Portuguese rival.
Messi, who turns 32 in June, is the top scorer in La Liga with 22 goals in as many games. He also leads the charts as far as number of assists made in the league with 10.