Manchester United legend Eric Cantona has named Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Javier Pastore as the best footballer in the world - overlooking both Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
The retired forward, 48, was speaking to respected French publication L’Equipe when he was asked who the best player on the planet currently is.
But rather than giving the usual spiel about Messi or Ronaldo, the unorthodox Cantona revealed the reasons why he enjoys watching Argentina international Pastore that little bit more.
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Cantona: Pastore is world's best player
"For me, the best player in the world is Javier Pastore,” Cantona said. "I watched two PSG games just to see him play.
"He has something special. Football is an interactive game and Pastore always has the ability to surprise.
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"Nothing special, no, but fantastic passes. He is the most creative player in the world. I love this kind of player."
Pastore has sometimes flattered to deceive at PSG
Pastore, 25, was tipped to become one of the world’s best attacking midfielders following his excellent two-year spell with Palermo in Serie A.
He moved to oil-rich PSG in August 2011 for a huge £37 million transfer fee, but has only managed to show glimpses of his supreme talent at the Parc des Prices.
Nicknamed ‘El Flaco’ (‘the skinny one’) on account of his slight build, Pastore has scored a reasonable 31 goals in 159 appearances for PSG - and contributed a further 29 assists - but has failed to scale the heights many expected he would.
Cantona, however, sees it differently. The former France international clearly admires creative players with the ability to take your breath away with a single pass that nobody else on the pitch is capable of playing.
in certain ways Pastore is similar to the great Juan Roman Riquelme, the former Argentine playmaker who was sensational for Villarreal and Boca Juniors but struggled at Barcelona.
Messi and Ronaldo are obviously better
But despite his many qualities, it seems bizarre that Cantona would place Pastore above both Ronaldo and Messi, who are widely considered the best players of their generation by some considerable distance.
Perhaps Cantona meant Pastore was the player who gives him most enjoyment, because it’s hard to argue that the South American playmaker is a better footballer than either Ronaldo or Messi, both of whom make an impact for their respective clubs and countries during each and every match.
Pastore, to reach a similar level, has to become a more effective player - and that will involve becoming more consistent.
Where does Javier Pastore rank amongst the world’s great players? Have your say in the comments below!