AC Milan's superstar signing, Leonardo Bonucci has named Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player he has ever faced, thus rating Lionel Messi as second-best.
The former Juventus defender was speaking to the Italian media upon his unveiling as the latest Rossoneri superstar, and said, "The best player in the world? Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s the best player I’ve ever faced. He has all the characteristics of a champion."
Bonucci also went on to name Andrea Pirlo as the best player he has ever played with, saying " the Best player I’ve played with? Pirlo? Give him the ball and he’ll put it in the bank. I learned so much from Andrea."
The Italian defender signed for Juventus from Bari for a fee of €15.5 million and has gone on to become one of the best defenders in the world, forming a legendary 'BBC' partnership with Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzaglia.
After rumors of being unsettled in Turin, Bonucci completed a shock transfer to Serie A rivals AC Milan for a reported fee of €40 million.
Having played against both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the peak of their powers in the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League and as a defender for the Italian national team, Bonucci is ideally placed to name the best player among the pair.
5 months ago in an interview with UEFA.com, Bonucci stopped short of naming the better of the two players, saying "I think they each have their own style. Messi has more talent, a supernatural talent, but Ronaldo has built himself. He became a kind of augmented player. Nevertheless, they are both exceptional, a class above, phenomenal players."
However, after shutting out Messi for 180 minutes in the UEFA Champions League this season, Bonucci clearly considers Ronaldo the superior player, especially after the forward scored in the final to guide Madrid to a 4-1 win.
With AC Milan taking part in the UEFA Europa League this season, it is unlikely that Bonucci will face either Ronaldo or Messi to change his opinion. As defenders go, Bonucci's opinion is one of the most valid, but it is important to note that someone with a similar stature as a defender, Jerome Boateng considers Messi the better player.