Messi is the Pele of this generation – Belletti

Juliano Belletti has says his former Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi is the “Pele of this generation”.

The 28-year-old returned to his best form in the second half of last season to inspire the Catalans to the treble but was criticised back in Argentina following the Albiceleste’s Copa America final defeat.

Belletti, who won two La Ligas and one Champions League with Messi at Camp Nou, believes he is unrivalled in the modern era and does not deserve the jeers in his homeland.

“Messi is the Pele of this generation,” he told Sport.

“I do not understand the criticism of him in his own country. You cannot criticise a player like Messi.

“But it also happened to Ronaldinho in Brazil.”

Belletti also leapt to the defence of fellow Brazilian Neymar, who was sent off in this summer’s Copa America during the group stage and subsequently missed the rest of the tournament.

“He’s young. People think he’s older than he is. He still has time to mature.

“He should rest well and have a good holiday because he deserves it.”