Lionel Messi’s talent is a significant cut above that of Cristiano Ronaldo, according to Mario Balotelli, with the Marseille star stating that the two should not even be mentioned in the same breath.
Argentina international Messi came to the forefront for Barcelona once again on Wednesday when his late double helped them pick up a hefty 3-0 advantage over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Until the forward’s characteristic pieces of individual excellence, the Blaugrana were finding it difficult to contend with Jurgen Klopp’s visiting Reds side, once again highlighting his importance to Ernesto Valverde’s side.
At 31, Messi has enjoyed another superlative season at the forefront of global football, bouncing back from both European and World Cup disappointment last season, with his performances firmly establishing him as the early Ballon d’Or frontrunner again.
The striker, however, is commonly mentioned in the same breath as Ronaldo, with the two generally considered to be the leading lights of their generation, particularly during the latter’s tenure at Real Madrid marking the pair out as domestic rivals.
But the Portuguese’s switch to Serie A giants Juventus this season, while delivering silverware, has not helped the Turin side onto continental success, with many citing Messi as the finer performer this season.
Now, Balotelli - who is currently plying his trade for Marseille in Ligue 1 - has taken to social media to deliver his support for the Catalan club’s forward while stating that continued discussion over whether Messi or Ronaldo is better is no longer valid.
“For the love of football please do not compare him to the No.7 of Juventus anymore!” the Italy international wrote on a post published on his Instagram Stories.
Comparisons between Messi and Ronaldo are unlikely to go away anytime soon, particularly with the pair now level on 600 club goals each during their illustrious careers.
Ronaldo was the first to reach the landmark on Saturday as he found the net for Juve in their Serie A clash with Inter.
But Messi was not far behind, with his second goal against Liverpool - a superb 30-yard free-kick - enough for him to bring up the milestone for himself.
In terms of this season, Messi is leading the way over Ronaldo in terms of goalscoring, with the Barcelona man now having scored 48 goals in all competitions in comparison to Ronaldo's 27 during his first campaign in Italy.