Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes there is nothing to separate Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The two superstars of football go head-to-head in race for the FIFA Ballon d’Or next month, with the Argentine playmaker chasing a fourth consecutive award.

However, Ferguson believes the Real Madrid winger – and former Old Trafford sensation – is on a par with his Barcelona rival, and that both should be considered greats of the game.

"I think that what we are seeing at the moment from Messi is an exceptional player from this decade along with Cristiano Ronaldo,” the Manchester United manager is quoted as saying on

"There is nothing between the two of them, they are both the best players in the world."

Ferguson also looked back on great players from previous decades, and believes the La Liga pair will be held in similar esteem when they decide to call time on their respective careers.

"The great thing about football is that there will always be great players. You can go back to the 60s with Di Stefano, Puskas, and Eusebio. Going into the 70s you had Cruyff and Beckenbauer and then in the 80s Van Basten," Ferguson added.

Messi has broken the individual record for goals in a calendar year in 2012, netting 90 to-date in all competitions. That surpasses the previous best of 85, set by Gerd Muller in 1972.

However, Barca failed to win the Champions League or domestic championship in Spain, with Ronaldo helping Los Blancos to the title.

Messi is the bookmakers favourite to lift the Ballon d’Or once again, but his Portuguese rival will be hoping to cause an upset off the pitch in January.

Disagree with Ferguson over who is the best? Watch the video of both players below and have your say at the end of the story…

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