Gary Neville explains why he'd always pick Cristiano Ronaldo over Lionel Messi

By Jake Polden

Gary Neville says if he had to pick between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to bring off the bench and win a game he's picking the Manchester United forward all day long.

Neville spoke passionately and at length about Ronaldo on Monday Night Football, where he hailed the 36-year-old a match-winner but stopped short of predicting he'll lead the Red Devils to title glory this season.

Manchester United splashed cash liberally this summer bringing in Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane before the icing on the cake, Ronaldo, returned home to Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under intense pressure to win the title this season and has admitted he is expecting Ronaldo and co. to get United over the line this campaign.

Gary Neville heaped praise on Cristiano Ronaldo (Sky Sports)

And although Neville isn't convinced the Red Devils will storm to the title ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City this season, he does believe Solskjaer has the best impact player on the planet in his ranks.

"The question I was asked this morning was about a guy driving me in, I've always ignored the Ronaldo vs Messi argument because I see it as being a fantasy," said Neville on Sky Sports.

"But he asked me the question 'who would you bring off the bench?' I thought it would be Cristiano Ronaldo, it would absolutely be Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I looked at his goal breakdown, he can score with his left foot, his wrong foot, he can score from distance, he's probably the best poacher in all of football.

"He can score penalties, and if you hang it up there in the box he can score a header. He might even score a free-kick.

"If you think about the impact from a player and what is the greatest of all time, I've never really answered it, but you look at the stats. It's a phenomenal amount of goals with his wrong foot, it's an outrageous amount of headers.

"So many goals inside the box, a lot outside the box. Penalties, a massive amount. 125. Hat-tricks and free-kicks. It actually took me to a point of how we're going to discuss Ronaldo tonight.

"I do think he's the player I'd bring off the bench if I had to win a football match.

"To me, I do think he's the best footballer who's ever lived. I do think he's the greatest who's ever lived. That's not bias, that's me looking at answering that question of who I would trust to bring off the bench the most in the most different ways.

"Who is the most complete player. Messi's goals and Ronaldo's goals, there's no doubt Messi has scored an obscene amount of goals, he's a ridiculous player. It's a hypothetical question.

Cristiano Ronaldo made his second debut for Man United on the weekend (AFP via Getty Images)

"But for me, apart from the wrong-footed goals, the headers, Ronaldo's scored 30-40 per cent more with his wrong foot, and he's scored more penalties. It took me to a point where he's more complete.

"The last part, the most important thing, is that international record of the most international goals ever. He's won five champions leagues with teams not as good as Messi's teams.

"The Ballon d'Ors are similar, Messi's won more league titles with that Barcelona team. The Champions Leagues along with the variety of goals he's scored leads me to think he's the best player of all time."

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