After appearing to mock Cristiano Ronaldo over comparisons with Lionel Messi, controversial Italy striker Mario Balotelli has clarified his remarks on the five-time Ballon d'Or winners.
The former Liverpool star appeared to have a dig at Real Madrid's record goalscorer in the aftermath of FC Barcelona's 3-0 victory over Liverpool in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona on Wednesday, suggesting that the former Manchester United attacker cannot be the subject of comparisons to his longstanding rival.
After receiving some backlash for his comments, the 2010 Golden Boy took to social media to clarify his sentiments about the Barcelona and Juventus superstars.
"If we're talking statistically, they're the same," the Olympique Marseille forward said via his official Instagram account.
"But as someone who played against both, I can say that, in my opinion, Messi is out of this world, embarrassing. You can never get the better of him.
"In terms of quality, Messi is better than everyone. I'm convinced that if you ask a defender if they would rather play against Messi or Ronaldo, they would have no doubts.
"Messi and Ronaldo are two phenomena, true, but they're not the same. If there was no Messi, Ronaldo would be the best in the world. I have a lot of respect for him, for how he trains, and it's a pleasure to watch him play and see how he managed to work on his body.
"Then people take it out on me and say I don't know what I'm talking about... We're talking about the two best players in the world.
"Ronaldo touched the ball three times against Atletico and scored three goals, but that's his strength.
"(On Wednesday,) Messi decided the match against Liverpool. I leave the statistics to journalists, but it's like comparing Maradona and Pele.
"Pele scored more goals than Maradona, but when Maradona touched the ball, he was something else."
Messi is the leading goalscorer across Europe's top five leagues, having found the back of the net on 34 occasions in 32 LaLiga games so far this season.
Which player would you rather have on your team, Messi or Ronaldo? Have your say in the comments section below.