Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has described his club team-mate Lionel Messi as the best footballer in history, claiming the Argentine forward is a class apart from Cristiano Ronaldo and his fellow peers, as well as the game's other greats of the past, reports Goal.com.
The Spaniard believes Messi deserves to lift the FIFA Ballon d'Or for a record fourth time, ahead of his Real Madrid rival, when the award is presented next month.
Pique is well-placed to make a comparison between La Liga's leading lights, having played alongside Ronaldo during his time at Manchester United, and now working closely with the Argentine at Camp Nou.
The 25-year-old has no doubt that Messi is the world's greatest, and says that it's his consistent level of performances that puts him above both the Portuguese star, and legendary striker Diego Maradona.
"I respect those who believe that Cristiano Ronaldo deserves the Ballon d'Or, but Leo is from another planet while Cristiano is only the best among humans," Pique told Radio Associacia de Catalunya 1.
"Ronaldo is a hard worker, very good, but there's nothing you can do when faced against Messi.
"What makes him the best is that other [great] players have had ups and downs, like Maradona. He wasn't half of what Leo is at Barca.
"Messi has had so many good years in his career that he deserves to be considered the best ever."
The diminutive figure has won each of the last three Ballon d'Or awards, and will enter the record books if he is chosen once again in December.