Former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera has told ESPN there "is no room for criticism" of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, with both coming under scrutiny for their performances this season.
Herrera, who now plays for Athletic Bilbao, joined United in 2014 before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, where he played in the same team as Messi following the Argentine's move to the club in 2021.
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Herrera told ESPN he "loves" United, and defended striker Ronaldo after the criticism he has received following a slow start to the 2022-23 season, scoring one Premier League goal and starting one league match for Erik ten Hag's side.
"When you have a player who scores 24/25 goals last season, how can you say this player is not for the team?" Herrera told ESPN in an exclusive interview.
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"Top scorer of the team, one of the top scorers in Europe. Probably not going to score 50 goals every season, of course, but he's still fighting, scoring, taking care of himself every day, every single training [session], so respect.
"Now, probably, you have to control the charge of him in terms of training and games, you can't make him play every single game of the season, in the big moments he will be there.
"There is one thing you cannot lie [about], the stats. And Ronaldo ... always putting the face to fight, to score, to run, to take the responsibility of the team -- for me there is no space for criticism with Cristiano or with Leo.
"Of course everyone's going to talk about them because they're probably the two best players in the history of football."
Herrera played 28 times for PSG after Messi's arrival and the Bilbao midfielder said it was a "dream" to play and train alongside him every day.
He added that rather than disrespecting Messi and Ronaldo, people should thank them for what they have given to the sport.
"Personally it was a dream playing alongside him [Messi], training with him was a dream come true," Herrera added.
"After I know Messi personally, the facts were better than the expectations -- always trying to help the team, respecting everyone, [he's] the best player in history and you see how humble he is.
"And Cristiano, for all of us as United lovers it was perfect that he came back to the club. He's scoring goals, he's back at Manchester where everything started.
"Sometimes I see some papers or journalist disrespect these two legend of football, we have to thank them for all they've given to football to us as fans. Those Clasicos they used to play against each other. We have to thank them for what they've done and what they're still doing."