Fabio Capello rates Lionel Messi as one of the three best players in history but does not include Cristiano Ronaldo in his final shortlist.
The Barcelona talisman produced yet another match-winning performance at Camp Nou on Wednesday night, registering two goals and two assists as Ernesto Valverde's side secured a 5-1 win over Lyon in the Champions League.
Messi went out to try and eclipse Ronaldo's extraordinary exploits for Juventus the day before, with the Portuguese superstar having netted a superb hat-trick in a 3-0 triumph over Atletico Madrid in Turin.
Both clubs are now through to the quarter-finals of this year's competition, with the possibility of Messi coming face to face with Ronaldo on the pitch once again looming ahead of Friday's draw for the last eight.
One-time England manager Capello spoke to Sky Italia after watching the two men star for their respective teams in Europe this week, revealing he ranks Messi alongside footballing legends Diego Maradona and Pele.
The Italian also praised Ronaldo's winning mentality but admitted he does not fall into the same category as his arch rival.
“Ronaldo’s an extraordinary footballer, but Messi is a genius,” said Capello.
“There are three geniuses in football: Pele, Maradona and Messi. Period. Ronaldo is very strong as he lets you win everything, but Messi is a genius and something else.
“I faced Messi when he was 16 years old and I was amazed. He did the same things he does today but 20 years younger because he was born a genius.
“He invents things that others don’t see. Ronaldo has made himself a champion, but not a genius.”
Ronaldo has enjoyed a stellar debut season at Juventus, scoring 23 goals in 35 appearances across all competitions.
Messi, meanwhile, has spearheaded Barcelona's assault on three trophy fronts, netting 36 goals in 35 appearances.