Monday 19 December 2016, 10:05

Suarez: Messi-Ronaldo is like a tennis match

Barcelona and Inter Milan legend Luis Suarez has compared Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and insisted football has never had an individual duel quite like theirs. The 31-year-old Portuguese and the 29-year-old Argentinian are among the final three contenders for The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 award, along with Frenchman Antoine Griezmann.

“Now we’re living through a tennis match: Cristiano, Messi, Cristiano, Messi,” the 81-year-old former midfielder told Marca. “They are two phenomenons. Never in football history has there been a duel like this.

“Messi is more spectacular. He does wonderful things. Cristiano’s game is more direct in search of goal. Ronaldo seems like he was built to score goals. Leo was born to do things that even he doesn’t know how, so difficult that they are. Where he’s most improved is scoring goals. They could play together perfectly. Cristiano was born a striker.”

Luisito's Ronaldo regret Suarez succeeded Omar Sivori as the world’s most expensive player when he left Camp Nou for the San Siro in 1961. ‘The Architect’ duly inspired ‘Grande Inter’ to back-to-back European Cup conquests.

Suarez has since coached I Nerazzurri on three occasions and now scouts for them. In the latter role he recommended a 16-year-old Ronaldo to Inter, and the fact that he went to Manchester United instead still nags at the former Spain playmaker.

“I met his mother, his sister, his agent,” recalled Suarez. “We even discussed money. He hadn’t made his debut for Sporting’s first team. I saw a friendly in Vigo and he scored a goal like Ronaldo’s against Compostela (the Brazilian collected the ball in his own half and scored a wonder goal for Barcelona).

“I have regretted not being more aggressive in recommending signing him my entire life. I told them more than four times, but nothing. I lacked assertiveness. There was even a point I thought about telling another club just to get Inter to react. It was a shame. They were waiting and waiting and before they knew it, he’d gone to United.

The Best FIFA Men’s Player will be crowned at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ ceremony in Zurich on 9 January 2017.