Exclusive: Lionel Messi Is Tougher To Face Than Cristiano Ronaldo, Says Micah Richards
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards says it was "impossible" to stop Lionel Messi when he played against the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.
The 31-year-old, who made 179 appearances for the reigning Premier League champions, spoke about the greatest of all time in an exclusive interview with SPORTbible.
Richards suggested the Barcelona forward was "harder to play against" than Cristiano Ronaldo.
In fact, the two-time Premier League winner claimed that he "kept Ronaldo quiet on a couple of occasions" when he played against Manchester United between 2005 and 2009.
When asked who the GOAT is during our chat, the former City, Aston Villa and Fiorentina right-back was complimentary of them both, but one man stood out on the pitch.
"I have to say Lionel Messi." Richards told us. "Just because I've played against Ronaldo and I kept him quiet on a couple of occasions."
SPORTbible: "Was it really that easy?"
"I wouldn't say easy." he laughs. "We went to Old Trafford and I played well against him whereas I couldn't get anywhere near Messi. He was different gravy.
"He drops into pockets of space that you don't want to be in. You think you've got him and then he just turns so quick. You can't have a plan for him. As soon as he gets the ball, just try and foul him. Stop him from getting into his rhythm. That calibre of player. It's just impossible to stop him.
"They are two of the greatest players of all time, the numbers speak for themselves, but I'd say Lionel Messi is harder to play against."
Richards also named Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale as one of his toughest opponents, claiming he's never played against someone who "skinned" him that many times.
"If Bale got past you, there was no chance of catching him." he said.
"There was this one game at White Hart Lane, and Gareth Bale tore me to shreds. The game ended 0-0 because Harty was unbelievable that day. I've never played against someone who skinned me that many times.
"Normally, because I was physical and fast, I'd always get back and put a tackle in not with Gareth Bale. He was just on a different level.
"I would have taken him at Manchester City before we got Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva. I still think he's got a lot to give. All this speculation about how his bad attitude is wrong - he is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet."
Micah is part of BBC Sport's football team. Follow the 2019-20 FA Cup competition on the BBC across TV, radio and online, starting with Dulwich Hamlet v Carlisle United on Friday, November 8, from 7.30pm on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer