Buffon: Messi more complete than aging Ronaldo

Messi is best player in history – Xavi

Gianluigi Buffon has claimed that Lionel Messi is a more complete player than Cristiano Ronaldo, who he says has become more of a pure goalscorer with age.

Messi, 30, is La Liga's top scorer this season with 25 goals. However, Ronaldo, 33, sits on his tail with 22 after a spectacular four-goal performance in Real Madrid's 6-3 win over Girona.

Ronaldo's goal tally is made even more remarkable by the fact that in the early stages of the season, he was hampered by poor form and a five-match suspension for pushing a referee.

Buffon will go head-to-head with Messi when Argentina face Italy in a friendly at the Etihad Stadium on Friday, with kick-off set for 21h45 CAT. In the build-up to the clash, the 40-year-old weighed in on the Messi vs Ronaldo debate.

"They are two completely different players," Buffon said on Thursday, according to Goal.

"Messi is more complete, because he starts deeper, has more technical quality and a vision of the game that is worthy more of a trequartista than a finisher.

"Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps because he is a little older, has become a killer in the penalty area. Compared to how he was before, Ronaldo preserves his energy more, so he no longer goes out to the flank for a nutmeg or trick-shot, but with one ball into the box, he can create a goal."

Buffon initially retired from international football after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but has now completed a full u-turn on his decision. He has claimed his comeback was motivated by the death of Davide Astori.

Meanwhile, Argentina are gearing up for the World Cup in Russia, where their first task will be to see off Iceland on 16 June.