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Wayne Rooney names his World Cup 2022 winner, weighs in on Messi v Ronaldo

Wayne Rooney has unexpectedly found himself in the headlines this week following Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan.

The Manchester United legend – who currently manages DC United in the MLS – found himself on the receiving end of a number of jibes during Ronaldo’s ‘tell-all’ interview.

At one point, the former England frontman was even seemingly compared to ‘a rat’ by the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

To his credit, Rooney attempted to play down Ronaldo’s comments when speaking to the media on Thursday evening.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo interview: Man Utd star appeared to call Wayne Rooney a ‘rat’

“He’s a fantastic player. Him and [Lionel] Messi are probably the two best players to play the game. It’s not criticism, what I’ve said is age comes to all of us, Cristiano is finding it hard to deal with that.

“He’s done an interview and it’s gone global, Bit strange some of the comments but I’m sure United will deal with it once they see the full interview and take whatever action they need to take.”

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – AUGUST 01: Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United during the pre-season friendly match between Manchester United and Inter Milan at Old Trafford on August 1, 2007 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

While Rooney was very much on the fence in the eternal Ronaldo v Messi debate in his above, he did pick a side in a recent column for The Times.

Rooney: “Messi has everything”

On whether Messi winning the upcoming World Cup in Qatar would cement his legacy as the greatest player of all time, Rooney argued it would be ‘great’ for football if ‘either Messi or Ronaldo’ lifted the trophy.

“People said the same about Cristiano Ronaldo winning the Euros with Portugal in 2016. It would be a great story for football if either Messi or Ronaldo won the World Cup. I have heard some of the Argentine players saying that they want to win it for Messi. That’s crazy – and might only increase the pressure on them”, he reasoned.

Messi pointing his fingers to the sky after scoring for ArgentinaHARRISON, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 27: Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina celebrates his goal in the second half against Jamaica at Red Bull Arena on September 27, 2022 in Harrison, New Jersey. Argentina defeated Jamaica 3-0. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

As he continued, though, Rooney admitted that Messi is the most complete player he’s ever seen.

“Everyone has different views on Messi and Ronaldo but I think Messi is the best. I have watched lots of videos of Diego Maradona, who was a similar player, but Messi is better. He has everything — the way he controls games, his dribbling, his assists — whereas Ronaldo is more of a goalscorer.”

Rooney is backing Argentina to win the 2022 World Cup

“For me, Argentina are the favourites. Unlike in 2018, they have plenty of good, solid players around Lionel Messi such as Lautaro Martínez, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul and of course Ángel Di María.

“Winning the Copa America last year will have given them confidence and has taken a bit of pressure off them. The climate will suit them too. The only thing they are missing is a No 9, that focal point in attack, but I think they will be really dangerous.”

READ MORE: World Cup 2022: Dates, Schedule, Location, Groups, Tickets, Odds And More

Quiz: Can you name all 30 of these ‘streets won’t forget’ players from World Cups?

Which players is Rooney most excited to watch at the 2022 World Cup?

“I’m really intrigued to see what Gareth Southgate does with Trent Alexander-Arnold. Personally, I would start him. I think Harry Maguire will have another big tournament.

“He has performed better for England than he has for United — I think he would agree — and over the last couple of years United have struggled.

“He hasn’t had much protection and it is no coincidence that now there is more stability in the middle of the pitch with Casemiro, United’s defenders are playing better. With England, he has always had that protection.”

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England 'Generations' shirt - GMS shopEngland ‘Generations’ shirt – GMS shop

Rooney on England’s chances at the 2022 World Cup?

“England have one of, if not the strongest squads. Full backs, midfielders, attacking players — there is strength right across the board.

“The only area that is not as strong as some of the other nations is the centre-backs. Previously we have had the likes of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry who were world class. When you look at Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka we’ve got to choose from, it’s as good as we’ve had.

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for England versus ColombiaSoccer Football – World Cup – Round of 16 – Colombia vs England – Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia – July 3, 2018 England’s Harry Kane celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/John Sibley TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

“England still need to work on how they are going to play. This is where the group – where the opponents are Iran, USA and Wales – actually helps. I think England will be comfortable going through this group stage. That will allow Gareth to work on the team in a way that other teams with more difficult groups will not be able to.”

Rooney himself represented the Three Lions at a trio of World Cups during his international career and closed the interview by sharing some of his own tournament memories.

Who was the Best player Rooney played with at a World Cup?

“Gary Neville and Owen Hargreaves did really well in 2006. People underestimate how good Gary was at Euro 2004 and in 2006.”

Who was the toughest opponent Rooney played against at a World Cup?

“Mesut Özil in the Germany game at the 2010 World Cup. He signed for Real Madrid after that.”

Mesut Ozil in action v England at 2010 World CupBLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 27: Mesut Oezil of Germany shoots towards goal past the tackle of Ashley Cole of England during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

The country Rooney would liked to have played for if he wasn’t English?

“Brazil, definitely.”

The World Cup goal Rooney wishes he could have scored?

“Michael Owen’s against Argentina in 1998.”

Bruno Fernandes’ brutal response to Ronaldo controversy (Football Terrace)

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