Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says that Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo “is the best of the humans”, but remains off the level of his team-mate from another planet Lionel Messi.
Messi and Ronaldo are regarded as the two finest current footballers on the planet and have shared the last eight Ballon D’Or awards between them, the Barca star taking his fifth earlier this year.
Ronaldo hit the winner in Saturday’s Clasico, after Karim Benzema cancelled out Pique’s opener, but Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar’s excellence means Barca remain seven points clear of third-placed Madrid in La Liga.
Pique played with Messi in Barcelona’s La Masia academy before linking up with Ronaldo at Manchester United, winning a Premier League and Champions League double in 2007-08.
Since returning to Camp Nou after that season, in Barca sides routinely inspired by Messi’s genius, Pique has won five Liga titles, three Copa del Rey crowns and a trio of Champions League medals, likely swaying his judgement when asked to compare the Argentina captain with Ronaldo.
“I think that they are both amazing,” Pique told BT Sport. “We are talking about two of the best players, not just in the world but the history of this sport.
“I always said that Messi has some talent that no one has. I mean, he has the ball and his speed controlling the ball. The ball doesn’t go two metres far from his foot, it’s always there. It’s impossible to catch him, this talent I didn’t see from anyone
“Cristiano Ronaldo is such a different player, they are very different. He is tall, strong, he’s really complete. He can do anything. He can do goals with the head, free-kicks, penalties, take one on one.
“But for me it’s like Messi is not human but Cristiano is the best of the humans.”
In an interview conducted by former United team-mate Rio Ferdinand, Pique was also asked to compare the manager he left at Old Trafford, Alex Ferguson, with the boss he found when he returned to Barca in 2008, Pep Guardiola.
The Spain centre-back added: “When I was at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson was already 20 years as the coach of Manchester United, so he took the position of the coach in a different style than Guardiola.
“Guardiola was really young, it was his first year as a first-team coach and he was really intense every training, you cannot imagine.
“Sir Alex Ferguson, when I was there I remember [Carlos] Quieroz was the guy who took training, he [Ferguson] was like more outside, controlling everything, taking a different position.”
Ferdinand interjected to suggest: “Like the godfather?”
Pique continued: “Exactly. And Guardiola was like every day, he was there, but both of them you can see their careers. I think they’re both fantastic.”