Zlatan Ibrahimovic picks Lionel Messi over Cristiano Ronaldo but names Brazil legend Ronaldo as GOAT

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC reckons Lionel Messi is a better player than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The debate over who's the best out of the pair has raged on for years – with Ibrahimovic weighing in.

It was a tough choice for him to make but after witnessing Messi's magic first-hand when they played together at Barcelona in the 2009-10 season, Ibrahimovic believes the Argentine edges Cristiano.

The AC Milan veteran, who recently joined the duo in the elite 300 goal club across Europe, suggested that while Messi's ability is natural, Cristiano's has been built over time.

The 40-year-old told Corriere dello Sport, reported by AS: "The two are very strong. It would be a difficult choice.

"If I have to tell you I choose Messi because I've played with him, I've seen him up close and I know that everything he does is for nature, he's not built. It's all movement, all-natural."

The Swede's logic was previously echoed by five stars who played with both Messi and Cristiano, with six undecided and one picking the Manchester United attacker.

Football's elite also reckon Messi is currently better than Cristiano as they handed the Paris Saint-Germain star his seventh Ballon d'Or trophy last month, while his Portuguese rival languished in sixth.

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However, in Ibrahomivic's eyes, neither of them are the best to ever grace the football pitch.

That mantle belongs to Ronaldo Nazario whose playing style Ibrahimovic tried to emulate growing up – but wasn't fast enough.

Even football icon Diego Maradona wasn't as good as the Brazilian, Ibrahimovic claims, as he didn't get to witness the Argentine's greatness.

He added: "For me, Ronaldo is the 'Phenomenon'. More than Maradona? I have not lived Maradona. Perhaps for other generations it is the strongest of all.

"But I did see Ronaldo in life and as a child I imitated him. I tried and but I didn't make it, I wasn't as fast as him."

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