Cristiano Ronaldo is a historic player but the Real Madrid star cannot even be compared to Lionel Messi, according to Xavi.

Ronaldo and Barcelona's Messi – two modern-day greats – are often compared, with their performances and achievements closely looked at.

Messi is a record five-time Ballon d'Or winner, but Ronaldo is expected to join him on that number later this year.

However Xavi, a former team-mate of Messi's, said no player could be compared to the Argentine maestro.

"Messi is a master in the collective and individual senses," he s aid."But for Ronaldo, that kind of linking up takes a lot. Messi does everything well.

"If a coach were to say, 'We're going to play with us all running back' then Messi would also be the best at that.

"If you ask Ronaldo to play with one or two touches then I don't know if he would be the best. Ronaldo is [the best] as a shooter, he's incredible at that and is a historic player.

"But with Messi you cannot compare. He is the best player at Barcelona and he would also be the best if playing for [Diego] Simeone's Atletico Madrid."

Messi and Xavi spent 11 seasons together at Barca, winning numerous trophies – four Champions League crowns among them.

Former Spain midfielder Xavi, now playing at Al Sadd in Qatar, said Messi was capable of improving his team-mates. "Messi makes any player better. The whole group made me better, because I need all my team-mates," he said.

"I can't do things alone, I'm not that strong and am better in positional play, knowing where my team-mates are."