The Italy icon claims Diego Maradona had the biggest influence on him as a player, but believes former Brazil striker Ronaldo to be the game's greatest
Both the Barcelona ace and Real Madrid star have started the season in superb form, with each player netting a hat-trick in the Champions League in midweek, and former Madrid defender Cannavaro feels the Argentine has the edge on the Portugal captain - though he considers the 28-year-old's Brazilian namesake to be the game's greatest ever.
"In my career, Diego Maradona had the biggest influence on me," the 40-year-old told 21CN.
"But I think there is another player who might be even greater. That’s the Brazilian Ronaldo.
"However, both Messi and Ronaldo are great players in terms of scoring. At this very moment, Messi is a little bit better.
"I like Thiago Silva very much too," he added when asked about defenders.
"He has great skills and physicality, one of the best centre-backs these days."
Cannavaro, who hung up his boots in 2011, is currently assistant coach at Al-Ahli in Dubai but admits he would be "honoured" to be considered for a role in the Italian national team set-up.
"I’m very honored and delighted that my name is on their list but right now I can’t say anything because it is not up to me to decide," the Italian added.
"But I would definitely be very honored if I were chosen someday. I haven’t been a coach for very long, I’m still learning."
The retired centre-back enjoyed an illustrious career, representing Juventus, Madrid and Inter, as well as winning 107 caps for Italy.
He captained the Azzurri to World Cup glory in 2006 before claiming the Ballon d'Or later that year.