Two months ago, Pele was asked the same question many people are asking again now: Is Lionel Messi better than you were?
''Difficult to say,'' the great man replied. ''When Messi has scored 1,283 goals like me, when he has won three World Cups, we can talk about it again.''
There are two ways to understand that answer.
One, of course, is 'No.' His latest record-setting five-goal feat in the Champions League notwithstanding, Messi still cannot definitively be called the greatest footballer of all time. Perhaps no one can.
But the other and more diplomatic point Pele possibly was trying to make is that, unlike the Brazilian, Messi is still an art work in progress. He has not finished sculpting his place in football history. Not even close. Messi, greatest ever? Why are we discussing this now? Come back and see me in 10 years.
Also, pitting one generation against another is often treacherous, even pointless.
Rod Laver played with a small wooden racket; Roger Federer has a big gra...