Messi has however played for some phenomenal club teams. Barcelona's routing record against Real Madrid (for many the #2 side in the world between 2010 and 2018) without Messi tells a story; then we are not talking about narrow wins but some complete routs. There were less possibilities in Maradona's time to establish his dominance over his peers and I say that as someone who is critical about some of his career aspects (his delivery against top sides in some years; the factual influence not matching the narrative; that virtually all of his biggest achievements came courtesy of a handball; Napoli spending big time; the lukewarm/inconsistent showings in continental competitions; some other things). Pele his dominance in perception was to an extent a product of Brazil's dominance (Santos also started winning just before him); in that sense a parallel with the Barcelona situation. Pele was the single best in the world because Brazil was the single best in the world (and yes, Pele would be my #1 if I had to make a pick) - the latter was a more obvious observation to establish. That was in a pre-stats age an 'advantage' he had. Furthermore, you are negative about Cruijff in my eyes (19th best world cup player) and yes, placing der kaiser in the same tier (dearman et al. goes even one step further, in terms of overall personality and contribution, which is worse than seeing parity in football abilities; when you talk about non-contemporaries as Jimmy Hogan, then fine) amounts to being negative. He himself said in 2010 Messi will win "five, six or seven" Ballon d'Ors in his career (when he had two golden balls) and said in 2015 that if he was forced to make a choice Pelé and Messi are the top two.