A former Real Madrid star, who featured in three El Clasicos, has heaped praise on FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, claiming that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner is "from another world".
Former Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rafael van der Vaart endured an indifferent two-year spell with Los Blancos, registering 73 appearances while finding the back of the net on 12 occasions and registering 11 assists.
Having come up against Messi on three occasions while at Los Blancos, the Dutchman is well aware of the talent the Blaugrana skipper possesses, and has lauded the Argentine, who netted his 50th Spanish top-flight hat-trick in Barca's 4-2 victory over Sevilla on Saturday.
"He's from another world," he was quoted as saying on Spanish radio station El Larguero.
"I saw him the other day against Sevilla. It's impossible to stop him, I think so because he appears everywhere.
"He runs with the ball but between speed and technique, you cannot defend him."
Van der Vaart also mentioned the 6-2 loss Real suffered at the hands of their rivals in May 2009, a clash in which then Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola famously deployed Messi in a "false nine" role.
"When I was in Madrid, Barca were much better than us, much better than all the other teams in the world at that time," the Dutchman added.
"I remember the match (that finished) 2-6, it looked like a PlayStation game."
Real and Barcelona are set to do duty in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tonight, with the first leg having finished in a 1-1 stalemate.
Los Blancos have a slight advantage heading into the tie at the Santiago Bernabeu, having netted an all-important away goal in the first clash.
Do you consider Messi to be the greatest footballer you have laid your eyes on? If not, who is? Have your say in the comments section below.