Argentine considers the United hitman one of the five best in the world
Messi insists that he would plead with Barcelona officials to make a move for the England international should Rooney ever leave United.
The Argentine places Rooney in a group of the game’s elite players and is impressed with the enthusiasm that the Englishman shows of the pitch.
“It would be a dream to play with Rooney if Manchester United ever came to the point where they needed to sell him,” Messi told the Daily Star.
“I would personally go to the Barcelona president and ask that he be signed myself.
“There are always a handful of players in the world at any one time who can go down in the footballing history books.
“At the moment, there are maybe Ronaldo, Rooney, Xavi and one or two more – but I can’t think of one that plays with the desire of Rooney.”
Rooney is considered to be worth £84million in the transfer market, but Messi believes that the former Everton star has the passion to play for no money.
“We all know football players at the top level are blessed with high wages – it’s no secret.
“But Rooney would play for 100 euros-a-week. You can see the fire in his eyes.
“It’s that fire that makes him the best of the best.
“His love for the game is natural. It’s like a father’s love for his son. He doesn’t need to convince himself he loves football – it was what he was born to do.”
Messi believes that Rooney is a more essential player for United than Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was during his time at Old Trafford and admitted that he is keen to play alongside the United star one day.
“If Rooney is ever sold, I think he will become the first 100million euro player. With all respect to Ronaldo, I think Rooney is a more important player for United than he was.
“Ronaldo’s ability is undoubted but Rooney is not only the talent but also the heart of the -Manchester United team.”
“I don’t know if I will ever play with him but, if he ever wants to leave, he is one of the few talents that can improve this Barcelona team.”
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