'The best are at Barcelona, starting with Messi' – Valverde rejects Ronaldo claim

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The Real Madrid superstar believes he is "the best player in history", but a rival boss says he would be at Camp Nou if that was the case

Ernesto Valverde rejected Cristiano Ronaldo's claim that he is the "best player in history", surmising that Lionel Messi and his Barcelona players are in fact the world's elite.

Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d'Or on Thursday to go level with Messi and caused something of a stir with his post-victory interview.

The Portuguese made the bold claim that he is the best player in history because no one else has ever been as "complete" as he is.

But Valverde did not think much of that statement, suggesting Ronaldo would be playing for Barcelona if it was the case.

"Everyone has their own opinion," Valverde said ahead of Sunday's La Liga clash with Villarreal.

Ernesto Valverde Lionel Messi Barcelona best

"They can state it publicly or not if they don't like to, but for me the best players are here at Barcelona, starting with Lionel Messi and followed by everyone else."

Valverde has contended with a number of injury problems since his arrival as coach and is excited about the prospect of Rafinha and Ousmane Dembele nearing returns.

"Rafinha did a rondo [a passing-based training drill] the other day," Valverde said. "It was the first time he's trained with the team since I came here.

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"It's true, I'm a little anxious to see some of these guys out there [on the pitch], like Rafinha.

"I saw him play at Celta [Vigo] and I want to see this player play and not just in training.

"With Dembele, he had a tough injury and we'll see how he can get back, little by little."

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