Ex City midfielder: 'Rooney not world class, Suarez is' - is he right?

Wayne Rooney

Former Manchester City man puts newspaper to task for taking comments out of context; talks about Manchester United and Liverpool strikers.

Social media king Joey Barton took to Twitter in order to address a media report that quoted the QPR midfielder to have said that Manchester United's industrious forward Wayne Rooney "is not world class" and that he "wasted his talent".

While the Manchester Evening News described Barton's appraisal as a "scathing attack" he is not exactly off the mark. When the 31-year-old, who spent five years at Manchester City, addressed the MEN article on social media he explained that while his comments were taken out of context he is adamant that, under his own definitions, Rooney is not world class and that, compared to dedicated professionals, the one-time Champions League winner could have improved far beyond his current capability.

When highlighting Barton's criticisms of Rooney - that he has been photographed smoking while the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo are either on the training ground after-hours or continuing to hone their craft - one cannot draw comparisons to Manchester's much-loved boxer turned coach Ricky Hatton.

The fan-friendly fighter was the best in the country in the light welterweight and welterweight division, he had excellent body-punching technique and was a ferocious come-forward fighter with a career-defining victory over hall-of-famer Kostya Tszyu, but suffered heavy losses to pound-for-pound greats Floyd Mayweather Jr then Manny Pacquiao.

Hatton first retired in 2009, aged 30, prior to an ill-advised/conceived comeback two years ago. In between training camps, though, Hatton ate recklessly and drank with abandon. It stands to logic that had he lived like Mayweather, treating his life as a year-round training camp, then he may have enjoyed career longevity like Floyd, albeit to a lesser degree of success.

When reflecting on Hatton's career, one can laud him as the best in the country in his weight-class, but not world class, much like Barton's assessment of Rooney.

"Rooney is our best player at the moment," said Barton. "Put in context for me, by my definition of 'World Class', he isn't. I'm sorry that's my belief. He is infinitely better than me. That is not the debate here but I was never world class, so people are missing the point."

Hatton to Rooney is what pugilists like Mayweather, Andre Ward, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Wladimir Klitschko are to Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez.

Barton has more: "World class for me is Ronaldo, Messi, Iniesta and Suarez. World class is a term thrown about far too often. Maybe Wayne was has been in this bracket before [but] I would have to say now he isn't. Why? Well it isn't for the lack of talent.

"I would have to argue that he has not been better since he broke on the scene at Everton. For me that's when he stopped developing or just afterwards. As I say, he is a top player. My favourite of the current bunch, I love watching him, he is old school… but not world class."

Thus far this season, Luis Suarez has been responsible for either scoring or setting up a goal once every 49 minutes on average in the Premier League. In contrast, Rooney's attacking efficiency ratio is one goal for every 83 minutes he is on a Premier League pitch.

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