Rafael Benitez has described Cristiano Ronaldo as the greatest player in the world at present , but says he cannot yet say if he is the best he has ever worked with.
The Portugal forward scored five times in the thrashing of Espanyol at the weekend to reach 229 goals in La Liga for Real Madrid, taking him beyond the record of former Spain star Raul.
Benitez has compared Ronaldo to former Real great Alfredo Di Stefano, but claims it is too early to say if he is better than any player he has coached before.
“Ronaldo is an excellent player. One of the best players in his position,” said the Spaniard.
“I can’t say if he’s the best, because I coached a lot of good ones. But he’s my player and at the moment he’s the best in the world.
“I was lucky to see Di Stefano on the pitch, in person. He was a winner, as is Raul. And Ronaldo is a winner. If we look at the statistics, you can see the similarities.”
Real begin their Champions League campaign against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, but Benitez has denied he is feeling the pressure as the club aim for their 11th European crown.
“Shakhtar are a great team, they have a coach with a lot of experience. They’re a team with speed and quality,” said the former Liverpool boss.
“I don’t feel the pressure of the Undecima, but the need to win every game, not one competition or the other. If we face every game with that mentality, we will win things.
“The Champions League is the most important, but I love the Liga and the Copa. To avoid choosing between one or the other, I prefer to focus on winning each game.”
Benitez has also denied that Keylor Navas has assumed the undisputed number one spot following the club’s failed pursuit of David de Gea, but has defended his rotation policy so far this season.
“I still haven’t spoken with the goalkeepers on this and I can’t talk about if there will be rotations,” he explained. “If one plays and the other doesn’t, there won’t be a problem. Tomorrow we’ll decide who plays.
“Rotation is not a whim, but we try to get the most out of the full squad. Whether a player rotates more or less depends on his form and his position. It’s not the same for a centre-back as it is for a winger.
“Every player is different.”