West Ham's Joe Cole believes Manchester United forward Robin van Persie is the third best player in the world behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The Dutchman broke the Hammers' hearts on Saturday as his late strike earned Manchester United an FA Cup 3rd round replay after Cole had produced two assists for defender James Collins in his first appearance back in a West Ham shirt after securing a move from Liverpool.
Van Persie has been in outstanding form since joining Manchester United from Arsenal over the summer and took his tally to 20 goals for the season with his sublime 92nd minute leveller at Upton Park on Saturday.
Despite Barcelona forward Andres Iniesta contesting the Ballon d'Or alongside Messi and Ronaldo this evening, Cole believes Van Persie deserves to be recognised as the greatest player in the world behind the La Liga rivals.
"You take away [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo and Van Persie is probably the best player in the world,” he told the Guardian.
"He was playing wide for Arsenal for many years and getting a few injury problems but moving central means there is a bit less running and he can use his technique and finishing, which is just incredible.
"He is a joy to watch and a pain to play against."
Manchester United take on West Ham in the replay at Old Trafford on January 16.
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