Wayne Rooney says Luis Suarez has surpassed Lionel Messi's quality

Messi Close Up

Manchester United attacker believes Liverpool hero is now superior to Barcelona favourite and second only to Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo.

Luis Suarez has already surpassed the level of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi but is yet to emulate the form of Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo, according to Manchester United star Wayne Rooney, who believes the sublime Liverpool player is "a close second".

Suarez has been a revelation since arriving in Europe from Nacional, particularly at Ajax in his third season when he busted the net 35 times in 33 Eredivisie games and his third full season at Anfield, where he has - to date - banged in 31 from 32 appearances.

Described as a street rat by lower league managers, Suarez has a tireless work-rate that compliments Premier League culture and, while a magnet for controversy in the last two years due to racial slurs and bite incidents, he has matured since and has seemingly won over the hearts of not just his fellow professionals (winning the PFA Players Player of the Year), but also the national media and the neutral fans.

Suarez may well also have an unlikely ally in United forward Rooney, who said at a recent Samsung Q&A session: "Cristiano Ronaldo [is the best player in the world] and probably Luis Suarez a close second."

But is the Englishman correct in this assertion?

In terms of domestic football alone, Messi has returned 28 goals and 11 assists from 2,318 minutes of La Liga football - an average of one per 59.4 minutes.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, has netted 31 times and assisted 11 from 2,537 minutes of La Liga competition - that's one every 60.7 minutes on average. While his attacking efficiency is marginally less frequent than his Argentine rival, he has been instrumental to Los Blancos' success in Europe, scoring 16 times (a tournament record) and providing four goals - which works out as one every 43.5 minutes he has played in the Champions League thus far this season.

Suarez?

Well, the 27-year-old, at one point in the season, was scoring or assisting once every 44 minutes, yet his productivity in front of goal has faded slightly toward the business end of the season, despite an overall impressive 31 goal haul supplemented by 12 assists. However, he has played more domestic football than both Messi and Ronaldo and, at 2,872 minutes, is responsible for a goal or assist every 66.8 minutes.

It is testament to Suarez's talent that he is being mentioned with the consensus top two players in world football from the last five years - and it is fully justified.

While the aforementioned pair still have the edge in terms of goalscoring and supplying, Suarez will only be fairly compared to the Portuguese and Barca star next season - when all three compete in the same competition; the Champions League.

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