Mel: We’d all like to be Messi

Pepe Mel has championed Cristiano Ronaldo as the greatest striker he’s ever witnessed, but considers Lionel Messi a superior footballer. The 31-year-old Portuguese and the 29-year-old Argentinian are vying, along with 25-year-old Frenchman Antoine Griezmann, for The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 prize.

"Ronaldo is the best striker I have seen – that nobody can dispute,” the former Real Betis marksman and coach told Radio Marca. “He has outstanding aerial ability, hits the ball with both feet, and is powerful.

"But Messi is the best footballer. We'd all like to be Messi. He has an incredible gift to combine all the best virtues of a player into himself."

Ronaldo won the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA EURO in 2016. His 13 goals in 13 games for Portugal took him on to 68 overall, leaving him shy of just three Europeans: Ferenc Puskas (84), Sandor Kocsis (75) and Miroslav Klose (71). Ronaldo is presently in Japan, aiming to win a third FIFA Club World Cup having triumphed with Manchester United in 2008 and Real Madrid two years ago.

Messi helped Barcelona win La Liga and the Copa del Rey this year. La Pulga has already scored 22 goals in 19 games for his club this season, while he netted eight goals in ten matches for Argentina in 2016, surpassing Gabriel Batistuta to become their all-time leading marksman in the process.

The Best FIFA Men’s Player will be crowned at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ ceremony in Zurich on 9 January 2017.