Andres Iniesta is reluctant to be drawn on Pele’s claims that Lionel Messi only has “one skill”, but he is prepared to bill the Barcelona superstar as “the best player in history”.
Pele claimed that Messi is over-reliant on his left foot, with his own game more complete as he was strong with both feet and good in the air.
Iniesta, who spent 14 years alongside a mercurial Argentine at Camp Nou before heading to Japan, is not convinced that a record-breaking goal machine can be considered ordinary.
To him, Messi will always be the greatest, regardless of what others might think or what the vote for the 2018 Ballon d’Or may suggest.
A Barca legend told reporters at a promotional event: "I do not want to answer what Pele said.
"But he [Messi] is the best player in history, he's got all the records: headers, skills, right-footed shots, left-footed shots - I have not seen anyone do what he does and every year he exceeds my expectations.
"[Being] fifth [in the Ballon d'Or voting] is not an insult, but for me he is the best. It would be bad to say that it was unfair for [Luka] Modric to win, he had a great season."
While talking up the qualities of Messi, Iniesta has also called for Ousmane Dembele to be given time in which to showcase his own undoubted ability.
The World Cup winner has struggled to produce his best since making a €105 million (£94m/$120m) move in the summer of 2017, with it being suggested that another big-money move could be on the cards.
Iniesta believes the Frenchman will come good if offered the right support, with it far too early to be writing off an exciting 21-year-old.
He added: "It is difficult to assess the situation [with Dembele] because I am no longer here.
"There has to be rules and responsibilities and, if not respected, the club and the squad should remedy the situation.
"He is a very important player for Barcelona.
"We must solve the errors and not kill them; kill them when there's no cure.
"I do not think that the solution is hopeless; my advice is that this will come in time."
Dembele was among the goals in his most recent outing, alongside another stunning brace from Messi, as Barca swept aside Catalan rivals Espanyol 4-0 and opened up a three-point lead at the top of the Liga standings.