United forward praises Argentine star as the best player in the world but believes he would struggle to play the same way in England against more physical opponentsManchester United striker Wayne Rooney says that although Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time, he would not look as good in the Premier League.
Rooney has now been on the receiving end of Messi's devastating talent twice in Champions League finals, with the Argentine playing a starring role in Barcelona's victories over United in Rome in 2009 and at Wembley on Saturday.
But while the 25-year-old had no hesitation in hailing Messi as the best player he has ever seen, he was not so sure the two-time Ballon d'Or winner would have the same level of impact in England without the service provided by Spanish duo Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
“Messi is the best player ever,” Rooney told talkSPORT. “What we’ve seen over the last two or three years is incredible. It will be difficult to see that again.
"Messi wins Barcelona the games, but Xavi and Iniesta destroy the opposition’s legs. You have to work so hard to get near to them and it’s harder than in any other game. Then Messi kills you off.
“If you brought Xavi and Iniesta with him [to England], he would [have the same sort of impact as Cristiano Ronaldo did], but the style of football that Barcelona play suits Messi to the ground and it’d be almost impossible to do that within this country."
Rooney believes that because of his smaller frame, Messi would not be as well suited to the more physical nature of the Premier League as former team-mate and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo proved to be in his time at Old Trafford.
He added: “It’s more physical, the Premier League — the likes of going to Stoke or Birmingham away are incredibly difficult games to play. I think if you look at the two players, Ronaldo is suited more for English football than Messi would be.
“[Ronaldo’s] physique is good and he’s suited to the English game. The English game is more about counterattacking and the Spanish game is about possession.”