The former England international says he thinks the Barcelona star is the best player in the world, and has also talked about his country's chances at this summer's World Cup
Lineker, who spent three years at Messi's Barcelona, scoring 42 goals in 103 games, said the Argentina international's teamwork put him ahead of his Portuguese rival.
“For me Messi is a gift from the footballing gods," the 53-year-old wrote on his blog, Blahzil.
"He’s just such a phenomenal talent, a player that doesn’t only best people but memorises them and produces magical moments, scores a multitude of goals and he’s always an honest player.
“He gets kicked, he gets hacked, he gets up. He never dives, he doesn’t cheat. He’s just a brilliant example for footballers everywhere.
“For me Messi just edges it in the sense that he’s more of a team player.
“I think Ronaldo is a phenomenal talent – brilliant player – love him to bits. But he does play for himself a little bit.
“Messi always makes the right decisions, whether to pass or whether just to finish. The man’s a little genius.”
Linker also discussed the England team's chances at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.
“Thankfully Joe Hart has bounced back to form with Manchester City and he’ll be hugely encouraged by the fact that he went on to win the [Premier League] title,” said the winner of the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup.
“So that’s massively encouraging because goalkeepers are an integral part of any defence.”
He also said the absence of Chelsea defender John Terry would make things harder for the side.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the best partner for Cahill would have been John Terry ... but John Terry wasn’t called in,” said the former Leicester star.
“The back up in that particular area is either [Chris] Smalling or [Phil] Jones, now both of those players of course have struggled this season at Manchester United.
“So you’ve not really got that much consistency in that position - it’s the one area of the team which is a concern,” he added.