‘Messi is incredible but Ronaldinho’s the best’ – Deulofeu ranks Barcelona’s Brazilian legend above Argentine icon

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The former Blaugrana winger, who has played in two spells at Camp Nou, believes a star of the past edges out one from the present

Lionel Messi is an “incredible” talent but Ronaldinho remains the “best player in history”, says Gerard Deulofeu, a man who has worked alongside both at Barcelona.

Deulofeu, a product of the Blaugrana’s famed La Masia academy system, was a starry-eyed youngster when the Brazilian legend was strutting his stuff at Camp Nou. He then went on to break into the first-team alongside the Argentine icon.

Ronaldinho and Messi are both all-time greats, with seven Ballons d’Or collected between them. Six of those are owned by Messi, but Deulofeu believes a fan favourite of the past was the more exciting and precocious talent.

He told Serie A’s official website: “For me, Ronaldinho is the best player in history. I met him, I went to see a match at the Camp Nou and he was sitting next to me. It was a wonderful experience.

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“Messi is incredible too, I like him very much. I played with him for six months and he is a nice person, a great player. The whole world knows about Messi.”

Deulofeu has had two spells at Camp Nou during his career, but struggled to make his mark.  That has forced him to seek opportunities elsewhere, at Everton, AC Milan and Watford.

The 26-year-old winger is now back in Italy at Udinese – on a season-long loan from Vicarage Road – and he is excited to have been given a second chance at starring in Serie A.

Deulofeu added on being in Udine: “The stadium is beautiful, but I already knew that because I played here with AC Milan. I like the training complex, it's very big.

“I had a wonderful experience in Serie A the last time, as I played a lot and I played well.

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“I have a wonderful memory of AC Milan and of their fans, but now I'm here and my respect goes to Udinese and the club's fans.

“I feel different than I did then, because then I was looking for regular game time and consistency in my performances. Now, after two-and-a-half years at Watford, I think I am a totally different player.

“I want to help the team by playing my best in attack. Let's see what happens. I'm happy, I've worked a lot in the last few months.”