La Liga president Javier Tebas believes Barcelona star Lionel Messi is “way ahead of” rival Cristiano Ronaldo as the world’s best player.
Tebas, a Real Madrid fan, spoke about Messi after he contributed a hat-trick and two assists in Barca’s 5-0 win over Levante on Sunday and compared him to former Los Blancos talisman Ronaldo, who is now at Juventus.
Per Sport’s Jordi Gil, he said:
“Anyone who saw the game against Levante, is a football fan and takes off their club colours, we have to open our eyes and say that Messi’s the best player in the world by a difference.
“It doesn’t matter what team you support, if you criticise Messi and say he’s not the best in the world currently, you don’t understand football.”
When asked about comparisons between Messi and Ronaldo, he added: “In this era now he’s way ahead of Ronaldo. That’s not always been the case in other seasons. But he’s leading Barcelona. He keeps taking on responsibility, seemingly with a new-found youth. He’s at an incredible level.”
Messi ran riot at the Ciutat de Valencia on Sunday.
After teeing up Luis Suarez following a mazy run for Barca’s opener, he racked up a hat-trick in the space of 17 minutes with some typically clinical finishing. Gerard Pique rounded out the scoring after the Argentinian squared the ball to him in the penalty area.
Sports writer and commentator Andy West put his performance into context:
The match took his tally to 20 goals and 12 assists in 19 appearances in all competitions this season.
It also marked yet another incredible milestone in his career:
On Tuesday, Messi picked up his fifth European Golden Shoe—a new record for the award—having scored 34 goals in 36 matches in La Liga last season.
Only Ronaldo, who averaged 50 goals per season over his nine-year stay in Madrid, has been able to match the diminutive genius’ longevity at the pinnacle of the sport.
However, while the Portugal international’s game became increasingly concentrated on delivering goals above all else over the course of his career, Messi has produced similar numbers while also excelling in many other ways, as he has this season:
Messi’s ability to act as both the chief goalscorer and creator for his side is unrivalled, separating him even from Ronaldo.
Tebas may have a vested interest in promoting Messi and, by extension, La Liga, but it’s hard to disagree with his assessment.