Barcelona legend Ronaldinho has claimed he ‘finds it difficult’ to call former team-mate Lionel Messi as the best player of all time.
Messi won his sixth Ballon d’Or earlier this month, confirming for many his status as the greatest footballer in history. The Barcelona talisman has continued his fine form this season, scoring 12 goals from 10 La Liga matches and notching 17 across all competitions. The 39-year-old ex-Barcelona star who played alongside Messi for four years at Camp Nou, however, has refused to describe his ex-colleague as the greatest footballer of all time.
The Argentina international is considered by many to be the best player in football history, recently claiming a record sixth Ballon d’Or title and setting a plethora of records that are unlikely to be touched by many in the years to come. Ronaldinho, however, has insisted that the 32-year-old was rather “the best of his era”. The 39-year-old went on to suggest that legendary players like Diego Maradona, Pele and Ronaldo were also in contention for the GOAT status.
“I’m glad Messi won the Ballon d’Or,” he told Marca. “We were also friends during our time at Barcelona. But I don’t like to compare, and I find it difficult to say he is the best of all time. There was [Diego] Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo… it’s hard to say that Messi is the best throughout the history of football. I can only say he is the best of his era,” he added.
Ronaldinho, who fared for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan along with the Catalans, was part of Brazil’s World Cup-winning squad in 2002 in which he formed an attacking trident with Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Ronaldinho made his debut for Barcelona in 2003 at a time when Messi was new to the club. The Brazilian would then go on to win the Ballon d’Or himself at the Nou Camp and also propelled them to the Champions League crown in 2006.
Messi, who won a record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or earlier this month, has fond memories of his time playing alongside Ronaldinho. The 32-year-old Argentine forward has praised the Ballon d’Or and World Cup winner time and again for how he “mentored” him. “Ronaldinho helped me a lot. I came into the dressing room at 16-17 years of age, seeing all those footballing giants made it tough. But he mentored me and made me feel comfortable, and I loosened up,” Messi recalled last month
“Afterwards on the pitch, I always looked for him but we didn’t have many years to enjoy together. Besides, we didn’t play as much at that time. I would have liked to play more with Ronaldinho.”