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Wayne Rooney brilliantly settles the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate

Manchester United legend Wayne Rooney has settled the debate over Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

The two legendary forwards are constantly in battle with one another, having been two of football's most successful players in history.

Fans of the icons consistently clash over their statistics, moments and accomplishments, with both players touted by many as the two greatest in history.

Rooney played with the Portuguese star for six years during his time at Manchester United but his thoughts on the pair are somewhat surprising.

The former England captain has claimed that despite holding a friendship with the United forward, the Paris Saint-Germain star is the better of the two.

He told Sunday Times (via SportBible):

"Ronaldo wasn't as focused on goals when we started playing together but you could see that all he wanted was to be the best player in the world. He practised and practised and began to produce. Cristiano has become an incredible scorer and he and Messi are arguably the best two players the game has seen. But despite my friendship with Cristiano, I'd go for Messi."

The former Everton striker then explained why he enjoys watching the Barcelona legend more, saying:

"It's for the same reason I loved watching Xavi and Scholes: it's the different things in Messi's game. I've talked about composure and I can't remember seeing Messi score when he has hit the ball as hard as he could. He just rolls them in, makes it so easy."

He added:

"Ronaldo is ruthless in the box, a killer. But Messi will torture you before he kills you. With Messi you just get the impression he is having more fun. Those two have completely changed the game in terms of goalscoring numbers and I don't think they'll ever be matched."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo: Football's greatest rivalry

Lionel Messi accomplishments:

4x UEFA Champions League, Copa America, 10x La Liga, 7x Copa Del Rey, 8x Spanish Super Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo accomplishments:

5x UEFA Champions League, UEFA European Championship, 3x Premier League, 2x La Liga, 2x Serie A, FA Cup, English League Cup, 2x Copa Del Rey, 2x Italian Super Cup, 2x Spanish Super Cup

The duo's rivalry was the backdrop of Barcelona and Real Madrid's tussle over domestic and European greatness throughout the last decade.

Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from United for a then world-record £80 million in 2009. After that, the two stars were finally able to encounter one another on a regular basis. The result was one of footballing brilliance.

Head-to-head, the pair have collided on 36 occasions, with the Argentinian forward getting the better of his rival in 16 of those clashes.

The PSG forward is often admired for his talents on the pitch, as Rooney alludes to. His scintillating speed coinciding with his untouchable ability on the ball has destroyed defenses.

The United star is a potent goalscorer whose knowledge of the game, power and determination has wreaked havoc in any league he's been in.

It's the latter point that many tend to sway towards the United star as he has managed to dominate three different major leagues.

However, both are currently encountering somewhat difficult new ventures.

The Argentine captain joined PSG in emotional circumstances last summer after Barca's wage issues meant he couldn't be offered a new deal. He has scored eight goals and made 14 assists in 28 games in all competitions so far this season.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese star returned to Old Trafford and has realized just how far the Red Devils have fallen over the years. He has scored 18 goals and made three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions so far this season.

Despite this, both have edged their names in the history books and the debate over the two rivals will last forever.