This ESPN interview with Pele shows what's wrong when a former player gets an "I´m still the greatest" attitude.
Basically, he says that Leo Messi is not as good as he was.
I beg to differ. Pele racked up his fame in the three World Cups he won, with the greatest supporting cast ever seen until then. He never had any success in the European pro leagues; I'm not sure he ever tried.
The game has changed a great deal, especially after the Bosman decision. Now players are judged by their professional club's success, and no club has had more than Barcelona in the last three years.
Messi shines on Barcelona because he has Xavi, Iniesta, Fàbregas, Pedro, Piqué, and company passing him the ball; this is why Pele shone with Brazil.
Right now I'm gonna say that Messi is clearly better than Maradona, especially when you consider career value (Messi doesn't get hurt or snort coke off hookers' nipples.)
Pele has a point when it comes to his own career value; Messi is still very young and needs to put in a few more good years, which he is capable of doing. Messi's 213 goals for Barcelona were mostly scored against top-level talent. A lot of Pele's over 1000 career goals were scored against the local equivalent of minor league teams.
If Messi scores 300 with Barcelona, and especially if he should somehow make 400, he's definitely the greatest ever.
Messi has not yet done well with Argentina, but that's hardly his fault, since the Argentine national team is not nearly as good as FC Barcelona and does not feed him as many tasty goals.
I think this is a case of an old guy not willing to accept that his sport's changed and he couldn't compete today; remember Joe DiMaggio demanding to be introduced as "the world's greatest living baseball player" while Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, and Hank Aaron were all alive.