Lionel Messi has praised Manchester United striker Robin van Persie with the Barcelona superstar calling him a 'complete player'.

With the Ballon d'Or fast approaching and Messi one of the favourites to lift the trophy alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, the Argentine has been openly discussing the players he admires the most as the world's best prepare for the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Argentina are hoping to be able to recover from their 4-0 loss to Germany in 2010 to come back stronger and lift the trophy for the first time since 1986, and Messi says that van Persie, as well as fellow Dutchman Arjen Robben and Germany's Mesut Ozil, are three players he will find particularly challenging to play against.

"Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben are two great players," Messi said. "Ozil is for me Germany's best player, he is first class, very creative. Van Persie is a total footballer, a very complete forward and capable of scoring lots of goals. Robben also has class, but is more predictable. He can dribble the ball at speed and leave many players behind."

Van Persie has become a particularly important player for Manchester United and many have pointed to his move to Old Trafford in the summer of 2012 as the main factor in the club being able to reclaim the title from Manchester City in convincing style.

While the 30 year old has struggled somewhat with injuries this season he has still scored 10 goals in all competitions for United and six for Holland, including a hat-trick against Hungary as the side sealed World Cup qualification convincingly.

The prolific striker missed out on United's trip to Cardiff at the weekend but is believed to be in contention for selection against Bayer Leverkusen this week in the Champions League as they look to secure victory and a place in the knockout stages of the competition.