Ronaldinho said on Thursday that Argentina international Lionel Messi, the best player in the world after winning the 2019 Ballon d'Or, can only be labelled as the "best player of his era."
Asked if Messi deserved the Ballon d'Or, Ronaldinho, who starred for Barça alongside Messi in his early years, was uncomfortable labelling him the best ever.
"I am delighted for Messi because he's a friend," the ex-Brazil international said. "I don't like comparisons because it's difficult to identify who's the best ever. Diego Maradona is there, Pele, [Brazilian] Ronaldo... I can't say that Messi's the best ever, but he's the best of his era."
Ronaldinho was speaking at an exhibition game at the Estadio Centenario de Morelos in Mexico, where he was joined by former player Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who is now working in politics.
Messi has now won the Ballon d'Or six times, more than any other player in the history of the game, and is widely considered the best ever footballer.