Wayne Rooney has picked Lionel Messi over former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo as the greatest ever because of the Barcelona forward’s ability to “torture” his opponents.
Ronaldo and Rooney won eight major honours across a six-year spell together at Old Trafford, including the Champions League in 2008.
The Portugal international has since enjoyed a healthy relationship with Messi, the pair sharing 11 Ballons d’Or between them.
Despite winning trophies in three countries with United, Real Madrid and Juventus, however, Rooney believes that one-club man Messi edges it in terms of being the better player.
“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 told The Times. “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.
“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. 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.”
Messi’s sixth Ballon d’Or triumph in December took him one ahead of Ronaldo, who last won the award in 2017.