Fabio Capello believes that even the “extraordinary” Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be considered in the same class as “genius” Lionel Messi along with two other greats.
Ronaldo has been receiving many plaudits for his heroic hat-trick on Tuesday night to fire Juventus into the Champions League quarter-finals against Atletico Madrid, despite trailing 2-0 aggregate from last month’s first-leg defeat.
The 34-year-old forward has taken no time at all in adapting to the Italian style of football and is on course to win the Serie A title this season in what will be the third different league crown he has won across his career.
Ronaldo is regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time given his exploits over the past 18 years, which has seen him break numerous records at both club and international level.
The Portugal captain also shares the record of five Ballon d’Or awards with Barcelona icon Messi.
But, for ex-Juventus manager Capello, Ronaldo lacks the natural flair of Messi along with past greats Pele and Diego Maradona.
“Ronaldo’s an extraordinary footballer, but Messi is a genius,” Capello told Sky Sport Italia.
“There are three geniuses in football: Pele, Maradona and Messi. Period. Ronaldo is very strong as he lets you win everything, but Messi is a genius and something else.
“I faced Messi when he was 16 years old and I was amazed. He did the same things he does today but 20 years younger because he was born a genius.
“He invents things that others don’t see. Ronaldo has made himself a champion, but not a genius.”
Messi starred for Barcelona once again in Wednesday’s 5-1 Champions League win over Lyon at Camp Nou to book their spot in the quarter-finals.
This means that the Argentine superstar could find himself coming up against Ronaldo’s Juventus in the next round depending on the outcome of Friday’s draw.