Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has expressed his view that Lionel Messi, Kevin de Bruyne and Kylian Mbappe are currently the top three players in the world, leaving out five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barcelona captain Messi picked up football’s most coveted individual award for the sixth time last year, finishing ahead of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and long-time rival Ronaldo, who currently plies his trade in Italy with Juventus.
Messi and Ronaldo have battled for supremacy at the very highest level for well over a decade, and neither have shown signs of slowing down as they approach the twilight years of their respective careers.
The latter has hit 21 goals in 22 Serie A matches this season, helping the Bianconeri edge towards a ninth successive Scudetto by serving as the focal point up front in Maurizio Sarri’s line-up.
Despite the fact Ronaldo continues to deliver the goods consistently in one of Europe’s major leagues, Gundogan does not rank the 35-year-old among the elite anymore.
The Germany international still believes Messi sets the standard for all other players to aspire to, and he has named City team-mate De Bruyne and Paris Saint-Germain frontman Mbappe as the current heirs to the Argentine’s throne.
Gundogan listed all three men ahead of Ronaldo when asked for his opinion on the best footballers in the business during a Q&A session on Twitter.
The 29-year-old was also asked about Leroy Sane’s future at the Etihad Stadium, with a fellow countryman currently being linked with a move to Bayern Munich.
Sane has missed the entire 2019-20 campaign due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but City boss Pep Guardiola recently confirmed that the winger is closing in on a return to first-team action.
“I would be happy if he remains my teammate for many years, we will see what will happen!” Gundogan said of Sane’s position at City.
The Premier League is on hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak at the moment, with the footballing authorities taking the decision to postpone the season indefinitely after Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta were both diagnosed with the illness last week.
Gundogan added on his own wellbeing as he self-isolates at his residence in Manchester: “I’m staying at home, but it’s not really a holiday for me. I hope all of you are well, too.
“Tough times for each and every one of us. I just can say thank you to everyone in healthcare: doctors, nurses, hospital staff. Positivity will keep us strong, we will get through this!”