Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hailed "one of a kind" Lionel Messi, and believes the five-time Ballon d'Or winner would be just as successful were he to ever leave Spain.
In an exclusive interview with ESPN, Ibrahimovic talked about his former Barcelona teammate, with whom he played at the Camp Nou in the 2009-10 season.
"I think Messi is one of a kind. I don't know if we will see another player do the things that he does because he has his style and to become that player, I don't think it's possible," said Ibrahimovic. "I had the luck to see him every day, I said before, it's like playing PlayStation: You give the ball to the guy and you start to go through every player and that's who Messi is."
With 51 goals in 2016, Messi is currently one ahead of Ibrahimovic's haul for the calendar year. The Swedish striker scored 33 times for Paris Saint-Germain before making the summer move to Manchester United, for whom he has scored 17 times in all competitions this season.
Ibrahimovic began his club career with Malmo in Sweden and also played in Netherlands for Ajax, as well as Juventus and Inter in Italy. Following a season with Barcelona he returned to Serie A with Milan, before moving to France in 2012.
While acknowledging they have taken different paths, Ibrahimovic insists that Messi, who has remained in Spain, would thrive away from Barcelona.
"I think it's two different players in the way of styles and the way of playing," said Ibrahimovic. "I'm the one that went around and conquered different countries; he's the one who has stayed in one place for many years and has been amazing. If he can do it there, he can do it anywhere because he's that kind of player that loves football, he loves the game so much [that] he wouldn't have trouble performing like he is doing in Barcelona, worldwide."
Earlier this year, following Argentina's Copa America Centenario final defeat to Chile, Messi stunned the football world by announcing his international retirement. He subsequently returned to play for his country without missing a single match, but Ibrahimovic warned Messi's fellow countrymen to make the most of what they have.
"I think we should be appreciating -- especially in Argentina -- that they have a player like that and they should enjoy him while he's playing because he's a beautiful [player]."
At Old Trafford, Ibrahimovic has two of Messi's Albiceleste teammates in Sergio Romero and Marcos Rojo, the latter of whom has been a key player in United's recent unbeaten run, which dates back to October.
"I think Rojo has done a fantastic half year," said Ibrahimovic. "Even in the beginning he wasn't playing so much and I think people were talking about that, which is nonsense and nothing important. Since he came in he has done a fantastic job."