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Sao Paulo, Feb 21 (EFE).- Neymar is an "average" player on Brazil's national team, according to soccer legend Pele, who advised the highly touted striker to play for Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona if he leaves Santos FC to compete overseas.
"That wasn't what we were expecting from Neymar, especially those of us at Santos who have blind faith in him, but he's an average player on the squad. He's an excellent player but without international experience," Pele, who scored more than 500 goals for Santos between 1956-1974, told the online edition of the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.
Pele said his son - former goalkeeper Edinho, who is part of Santos' coaching staff - tells him that the 21-year-old striker gets "really upset" during practice when fouls are committed against him and no whistle is blown.
The former soccer great said he hopes Neymar stays with the Brazilian club "but if he has to leave, then he should go to Barcelona."
Neymar's agent, Wagner Ribeiro, responded to Pele's criticism, saying it stems from "jealousy" and that in today's game the Brazilian legend would be "inferior" to his client.
"If Pele were playing today, he would be inferior to Neymar because in his era the defenders were all slow and their physical condition wasn't the same. That's why he was Pele, whereas today the defenders 'fly' and even still Neymar is one of the world's best," Ribeiro told Globoesporte.