Steven Gerrard is quietly hoping for a Barcelona and Real Madrid Champions League final, with the former Liverpool midfielder labelling the possible match-up as “phenomenal”.
Barca won the Champions League last season and are expected to feature during the latter stages of the competition, while Rafael Benitez’s Real are determined to add to their 10 European crowns.
Gerrard, who held the trophy aloft as captain of Liverpool in 2005, would love to see English teams compete for top honours but the LA Galaxy star is relishing the prospect of a Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo showpiece in Milan on May 28.
“We all want English clubs to do well,” Gerrard told the Mirror. “After last season’s disappointing performance by our clubs in Europe I thought it was just a blip. But after three defeats out of four in the first week, maybe it’s more of a problem than I thought.
“Now that I’m looking from outside England, even though I want our teams to win it, a Barcelona-Real Madrid final would be a phenomenal showpiece for everyone to enjoy.
“I might be proved wrong, but I look at the records these lads are breaking and we may never see two incredible talents going head-to-head again.
“We might see a single player emerge to become the world’s best, but to have a pair of them taking the game to new levels at rival clubs is a unique situation.
“Enjoy them while you can because I would be surprised if their figures are ever repeated.”
Barca’s all-time leading goalscorer Messi (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and Ronaldo (2008, 2013, 2014) – second in Real’s all-time list – share seven Ballon d’Or awards between them.
The two rivals have also won the Champions League six times as a collective, with Messi lifting the trophy on four occasions along with his seven La Liga titles, while Ronaldo has three Premier League crowns to go with his solitary Spanish league medal.
Gerrard added: “We’re living in an era where Messi and Ronaldo are taking forward play to a level we’ve never seen before.
“Choosing between them is like having to choose between Pele and [Diego] Maradona, because they are recording numbers that are incredible — more than 800 goals in club football between them alone.
“Years ago, a striker who scored 30 goals in a season in all competitions was recognised a world-class player, but these two are doubling that. To split them is almost impossible.”