Messi is better than Pele and Maradona, says Pope Francis

The leader of the Catholic Church, who is also a San Lorenzo supporter, believes that the Barcelona superstar is the finest footballer in the history of the game

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 also going head-to-head with current 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.

GOAL READ MORE  | Sacchi: Messi is no Maradona

"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.

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.

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