Lionel Messi can give Barcelona the Clasico edge if he makes his return from injury against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, says former Barca captain Frank de Boer.
Messi is reported to be closing in on a comeback having been sidelined since sustaining knee ligament damage during September's 2-1 win over Las Palmas.
Fellow forwards Neymar and Luis Suarez have flourished in his absence to lead Luis Enrique's defending champions to the top of La Liga and De Boer feels the Argentina superstar's capacity to complement such talents is an enduring quality lacking in his long-time Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
"For me, my personal best player is Messi because he can do almost everything and so if I have to choose one as my favourite it's Messi," he told Omnisport.
"But Ronaldo, I take my hat off to him, because if you can manage to score so many goals every year and never be injured, I think you're also one of the best.
"So it's hard to choose, but if I have to pick one then I will take Messi. I like him more because he gives more.
"He gives 40 assists also in a year and makes [scores] fifty goals and that I like very much about him."
De Boer faced Real Madrid nine times for Barcelona between 1999 and 2003 and is well versed in the unique intensity that comes with the fixture.
"First of all you have the history, with Catalonia - the independence they want of course," he added.
"They are probably the two biggest teams in the world to play on one soil so it's so massive, 90-100,000 people in the stadium.
"The hatred between Real Madrid and Barcelona, you feel the tension. If you for [either team] they are already talking about the Clasico four weeks before and they start with two pages [in the newspapers] every day."Then suddenly it gets more - five, six - and at the end of the week before it's 20 pages about the Clasico. That you cannot imagine, it's so special."