Former Manchester United player Wayne Rooney believes Lionel Messi is above the “incredible” Cristiano Ronaldo because the Barcelona attacker “will torture you before he kills you.”
Rooney and Ronaldo tormented defences during their time as team-mates in an outstanding United team before the Portugal forward moved to Real Madrid in 2009.
They spent a total of five years together at Old Trafford, a spell that produced three Premier League titles and Champions League victory in 2007-8, a feat that sealed Cristiano Ronaldo’s first Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have gone on to claim the prize an amazing 11 times between them, with Luka Modric the only other player to land the award since 2007.
But former England skipper Rooney considers Messi, winner of the Ballon d’Or on six occasions, to be above his friend and ex-team-mate.
The Derby County captain wrote in his Sunday Times column: “Ronaldo wasn’t as focused on goals when we started playing together but you could see that all he wanted was to be the best player in the world.
“He practised and practised and began to produce. Cristiano has become an incredible scorer and he and Messi are arguably the best two players the game has seen.
“But despite my friendship with Cristiano, I’d go for Messi. It’s for the same reason I loved watching Xavi and [Paul] Scholes: it’s the different things in Messi’s game.
Rooney went on to say that he believes Messi’s natural talent gives him an edge over Cristiano, whom he singles out as more lethal in front of goal.
“I’ve talked about composure and I can’t remember seeing Messi score when he has hit the ball as hard as he could. He just rolls them in, makes it so easy,” he added.
“Ronaldo is ruthless in the box, a killer. But Messi will torture you before he kills you. With Messi you just get the impression he is having more fun.
“Those two have completely changed the game in terms of goalscoring numbers and I don’t think they’ll ever be matched.”