GARY NEVILLE finally waded in on the GOAT debate – and picked Cristiano Ronaldo.
But Jamie Carragher fired back insisting Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer of all time.
Neville played with the Portuguese superstar for Ronaldo’s six years at Manchester United between 2003 and 2009.
And he set out his stall in Team Cristiano on Monday Night Football.
Nev said: “I’ve always ignored the Ronaldo and Messi question, it’s a bit of a fantasy and both need to be enjoyed.
“I was asked this morning by a gentleman who was driving me in: If you could pick any player in history to come off the bench and win you a game, who would it be?
“It would absolutely be Cristiano Ronaldo. I do think he’s the greatest football player that has ever lived. That is not a bias.
“Messi is a ridiculous player who’s scored an obscene amount of goals. It’s incredibly similar (on the stats) apart from the wrong-footed goals, the headers, and the penalties.
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“That takes me to a point whereby he’s more complete in terms of the most important part of the game.
“What tips me is the international record, the most goals of all-time, and the five Champions Leagues with worse teams than Messi’s.”
Although the graphic used by Sky Sports omitted one of Messi’s Champions Leagues and his Copa America triumph, Ronaldo does boss the international goals stats.
The 36-year-old reached 111 strikes for Portugal during the recent World Cup qualifiers, surpassing Iran hero Ali Daei on the all-time international scorers’ chart.
Overall, Ronaldo boasts 787 goals in 1,076 career matches – including two on his Manchester United return on Saturday – whereas Messi, two years younger, is on 751 in 932.
Carragher, though, reckons the Argentine deserves the prize in the age-old argument.
The Liverpool legend replied: “Ronaldo is not the greatest player of all time. I’m going to say it’s his mate here (Messi).
“It doesn’t matter how a ball goes in the net, Messi has more goals than Ronaldo. Messi is also a playmaker, he can run a game, Ronaldo can’t do that.
“Talk about who you want coming off the bench, Messi has scored more goals coming off the bench, so that’s a ridiculous thing you’ve said there.
“Ronaldo does things other players can do, Messi does things we’ve never seen before. In terms of the goalscoring that’s not right.
“There’s been a lot of fanfare about Ronaldo from ex-players, I just think you’ve just got carried away.”