Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that former United player Cristiano Ronaldo is a better player than Real Madrid legends Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo.

Sir Alex Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson, who sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a record ₤80m fee in 2009, is wary of his goal scoring prowess. The Portuguese international exacerbated Ferguson's fear with a hattrick against Sevilla in a 4-1 romp at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday 9 February. This takes his current tally in the league to 24 in 22 appearances and the 28-year-old will be looking to add to his six goals in the Champions League when they take on United.

"Florentino Perez had all the Galacticos at Real Madrid when he was president first time around. He had Figo, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Raul in that spell. But I don't think any of those players were as good as Ronaldo. Zidane was a fantastic player, Figo was a fantastic player. But not as good as Ronaldo. So I think Mourinho's team are still living up to the reputation that Real Madrid can produce the top players," he said.

This may be a ploy by Ferguson to put pressure on Ronaldo, who has missed out on the Ballon d'Or for the third time in succession to Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, and will have a tough time living up to his reputation against United, given the players he has been compared with.

"Ronaldo has beaten all the records there. He's beaten Di Stefano, Puskas, Hugo Sanchez. So obviously he is indelibly printed in their history now. You have to say he is pivotal to all they do - 179 goals in 178 matches tells its own story. I think I might have to think about blackmail. I might have to tell a true story about him! He's a fantastic player. I knew he would improve tremendously, he was still young when he left us," Sir Alex added.

Manchester United are currently clear favourites to win the Premier League this season, with the Red Devils capable of taking a 12-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table with a win over Everton. However, Ferguson will be looking to complete a treble this season, last accomplished in the 1998/99 season and will be looking to progress to the quarter final with a win over Real Madrid having already made it through to the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they take on Reading at Old Trafford.