Wayne Rooney has hardly had a shortage of superlatives thrown his way for the number of gritty, hard-working and visionary performances for Manchester United over the years.

But the 25-year-old England international striker is determined to raise his game to a new level, and wants to become as influential a player as Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

In the pair's most recent meetings, Messi and Barcelona have come out for the better, winning the Champions League final in Rome in 2009, and at Wembley last May.

The 24-year-old Argentine has twice been voted as FIFA's World Player of the Year and Rooney has set his sights on matching the level that Messi has set.

"Messi is a great player and rightly World Player of the Year," said Rooney.


"For every footballer out there, not just me, that's the target you want to try to get to and, hopefully, I can."

Despite stand-out performances in the past two seasons, Rooney knows that it's going to take more work and polished form to begin to challenge Messi for the honour.

Perhaps more importantly for Rooney is knowing that improvement in his form to Messi-like levels will result in United becoming even more successful.

"I want to do well all the time and know I can always improve," he continued. "I work hard every day to try to achieve that so it'll be great for me and the club if I do."

In the time that Messi has been heralded as the best player in the world, Rooney has netted 70 times, won the FIFA Club World Cup, two Carling Cups, and two Barclays Premier League trophies.

Meanwhile, Messi has scored 138 goals, won three La Liga championships, two Champions League finals, the Copa del Rey, the FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and Supercopa de Espana.

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