Fernando Torres believes Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and the Barcelona star would have achieved double in his career if it was not for Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo claimed a record-equalling fifth Ballon d'Or earlier this month to move level with Barca foe Messi as the pair continue to battle for club and individual superiority.
They will go head-to-head when LaLiga champions Madrid welcome league leaders Barca to the Santiago Bernabeu Saturday.
Atletico Madrid forward Torres lauded Messi, though the Spaniard praised Ronaldo for achieving so much in the presence of Barca's all-time leading scorer.
"What Cristiano Ronaldo has done in the time of Messi says a lot about him," Torres told Radio MARCA.
"If he wasn't there, then Messi would have achieved double.
"I think that Messi is the best player in the world, although they are different players."
Messi has scored a LaLiga-high 14 goals to help unbeaten Barca move six points clear of second-placed Atletico atop the table after 16 games.
El Clásico is coming... pic.twitter.com/MqSe7c1o2r-- Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) December 20, 2017
Madrid are fourth and 11 points adrift with a game in hand - Ronaldo only managing four league goals so far.