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Lionel Messi best, not Cristiano Ronaldo: Ivan Rakitic

Lionel Messi

Madrid, Dec 11 (UITV/IANS)- FC Barcelona's Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic feels Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo, denying the latter's claim that he is the best footballer.

Ronaldo, who plays for Barcelona's arch-rivals Real Madrid, bagged his fifth Ballon d'Or this week -- drawing level with Messi in the process -- and later told France Football that he believes he's the greatest to ever play the game.

"You know my opinion," Rakitic was quoted as saying by ESPNFC after Barcelona's 2-0 La Liga win over Villarreal on Sunday.

"With all the respect in the world for Cristiano Ronaldo, he's up against the greatest in the history of the game.

"I congratulate him for winning the Ballon d'Or but, for me, Leo is unique. There's only one No. 1. Those behind him are unfortunate enough to have coincided with him."

Messi scored the second goal in their win against Villarreal -- matching Gerd Muller's long-standing record for the most goals for one club in the top five European leagues -- as Barca remained five points clear at the top of the table over Valencia.

Luis Suarez had opened the scoring in the second half. Villarreal were then reduced to 10-men following Daniel Raba's dismissal.