The Santos icon believes the Portugal international was unfortunate not to be awarded the trophy, while urging caution regarding the progress of NeymarCristiano Ronaldo should have won the 2012 Ballon d'Or ahead of Lionel Messi following his efforts for Real Madrid.
The Portugal international had to settle for second spot in the race for the prestigious individual award as the Barcelona star landed the trophy for the fourth year in succession, but Pele believes Ronaldo would have been a more worthy winner.
"In terms of football, I say Messi, but in terms of successes I think Ronaldo deserved to win the Ballon d'Or. He won La Liga with Real Madrid," Pele said in an interview with AS.
"I was at Fifa presenting the award on two occasions. Cristiano was close on both occasions, but Messi always had more."
Pele then went on to discuss the transfer of Neymar from Santos to Barcelona and he thinks his compatriot could have some problems adapting to his new surroundings, while adding that the attacker still has room for improvement.
"It’s clear that the marking in European football is different to Brazilian or South American clubs. They’re stronger, the marking is tighter and the referees are used to this type of play. I think that this will be Neymar’s main difficulty.
"He has some obstacles to get over: he needs to play in a World Cup, he needs to improve his heading. By way of comparison, we had [Zinedine] Zidane a short time ago, one of the last great names in world football. He was an extremely complete player. Neymar still needs to get to that level."
Neymar is currently preparing for Brazil's Confederations Cup opener against Japan later on Saturday.