Spanish newspaper AS conducted an interview with Stoichkov, who enjoyed two spells with the Catalan giants, and ran with the headline: “Stoichkov: ‘I think Cristiano’s a bit jealous of Messi’”
Stoichkov hit the headlines earlier this week by claiming Real Madrid should consider selling Ronaldo after his controversial antics against Levante last weekend - and now, ahead of Sunday’s Clasico, he has taken the opportunity to have another dig at the Portuguese superstar.
Stoichkov: Messi is above Ronaldo
Asked if Messi is a notch above Ronaldo, Stoichkov said: “Everyone says so. It must be for a reason. The problem is when you don’t recognise it. And then you end up being swallowed up by your own ego.”
The 49-year-old also doubts Ronaldo will match Messi’s tally of four Ballon d’Or awards. The Real Madrid forward lifted the prestigious individual accolade for the third time in January, but Stoichkov believes that is likely to be his last.
“And Messi won the four previous ones,” he added. “We’ll see if he gets to four. But judging by the way his team is playing, he’ll never do it.”
Messi is the world's best player
Messi further enhanced his reputation as the world’s best player on Wednesday night with a masterclass against Manchester City in the Champions League.
The Argentina international had 12 fewer La Liga goals than Ronaldo back in December, but has since rediscovered his best form and now sits two goals ahead of the Real Madrid maestro in the race for the Pichichi.
Messi is the early favourite to win the 2015 Ballon d’Or - for what would be a record-breaking fifth time - but Ronaldo will aim to push the South American all the way over the course of the next nine months.
Will Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo win the 2015 Ballon d’Or? Have your say in the comments below!