Sir Alex Ferguson snubbed Christiano Ronaldo and named Lionel Messi as the best player in the world

The days may have gone since Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were head and shoulders above all other players as the greatest in the world.

Ronaldo is still playing in the Premier League with Manchester United of course and still producing world class displays but it is clear he is approaching the end of his career, as at 36 years old his physical peak has passed.

Lionel Messi meanwhile is also in the autumn of his career at 34 and is still adjusting to life at Paris Saint-Germain following his move from Barcelona in the summer, despite his surprise Ballon d’Or win.

So as stars like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe prepare to take the baton as the greatest heading into a new era, it’s worth re-assessing who was actually the better player out of Ronaldo and Messi.

The debate raged on throughout the 2010s with no one seemingly giving an answer that wasn’t biased one way or another.

That was until former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson gave his opinion back in 2015.

Fergie signed Ronaldo for United in 2003 and helped develop him into one of the finest players in the world before his then world record sale to Real Madrid for £80million.

Yet despite their positive relationship throughout, Fergie astonishingly sided with Messi when he was asked by 1991 world snooker champion John Parrott to pick between the pair, according to the Mirror.

‘People say who is the best player in the world? And plenty of people quite rightly say Messi – you can’t dispute that opinion,’ Ferguson said in 2015.

Although not many would have expected Ferguson to back Messi in the debate, he did hint that Messi could only produce his best at Barca, while Ronaldo could show his class no matter what team he played for.

Ferguson added: ‘But Ronaldo could play for Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, Doncaster Rovers… anyone, and score a hat-trick in a game. I’m not sure Messi could do it. 

‘Ronaldo’s got two feet, he’s quick, great in the air, he’s brave – Messi’s brave, of course. I think Messi’s a Barcelona player.’

Given Ronaldo’s ease of scoring goals at United, Real Madrid and Juventus and Messi’s struggles outside of the Nou Camp, it appears Fergie might have made another shrewd call.