Cristiano Ronaldo would be considered the best player in the world if not for Lionel Messi, according to Brazil icon Ronaldo.
The now-retired striker is a big fan of the Portugal international, who has scored a staggering 196 goals in 193 appearances for Real Madrid since arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu from Manchester United in 2009.
But Messi has won the Ballon d'Or at the end of every year his great rival has been in Spain and former Real forward Ronaldo can understand why.
"I would say Messi (is the world's best player) because he is a little bit better than Cristiano," the 36-year-old told Tuttosport.
"But I would also add that Cristiano has had unbelievably bad luck. He would have been the best player in the world in many other eras, but he has coincided with another of the game's greats."
Ronaldo believes Neymar has the potential to become a modern great himself, but that everything hinges on whether the Santos starlet ends up joining Messi at Camp Nou.
"We have to assess his impact on European football when he arrives at Barcelona," the World Cup's all-time top scorer said.
"The first year will be difficult for him, but I'm convinced that when he adapts he'll be one of the very best."
Ronaldo, who played for both Barca and Real Madrid during his illustrious playing career, quit the game in 2011.