Pele has named his five closest competitors in the battle to be considered football’s greatest ever player – but there is no room for Diego Maradona.

The Brazil legend, who inspired his country to three World Cup triumphs, is always at the forefront of any GOAT debate having bagged 643 official goals in 656 appearances for Santos.

He claims to have netted a stunning 1,281 goals in his career, although most were scored in unofficial friendlies.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have undoubtedly been the best two players on the planet over the last decade, leaving football fans torn as to which star is superior.

Cristiano Ronaldo spotted in Spain before he attends Real Madrid - Pele hints Diego Maradona row is continuing by leaving him out of all-time list
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have comfortably proved they are the two greatest players of the last decade

But Pele believes CR7, who has won the Champions League five times in his illustrious career, has the edge.

“Today the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo,” he told YouTube channel Pilhado.

“I think he’s the best, because he’s more consistent, but you can’t forget about Messi, of course, but he’s not a striker.”

Pele hints Diego Maradona row is continuing by leaving him - Pele hints Diego Maradona row is continuing by leaving him out of all-time list
Brazil legend Pele thinks Ronaldo has the edge over Messi

Ronaldo has scored an astonishing 626 goals in 838 appearances for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

He played a crucial part in United’s 2008 Champions League triumph before winning the competition four times in Madrid, where he registered an eye-watering 450 goals in 438 games.

As for Messi, he has produced a return of 627 goals in 718 appearances for Barca.

1585089273 209 Pele hints Diego Maradona row is continuing by leaving him - Pele hints Diego Maradona row is continuing by leaving him out of all-time list
The former Santos star clearly isn’t a huge fan of Maradona, nevertheless, after leaving him out of his all-time greatest player list

The Argentinian may have got his hands on Europe’s top club prize on four occasions, but he has the edge in Ballon d’Or wins, scooping the award a record six times compared to Ronaldo’s tally of five.

Nevertheless, Pele also named some other footballing icons who run him close in the GOAT debate – with one glaring omission.

“It is a question that is difficult to answer. We cannot forget about Zico, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.

“And in Europe, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff.”

Pele decided to leave out Maradona, the former Argentina great he has endured a frosty relationship with in the past.