Man Utd boss Ferguson tribute to Ballon d'Or winner Messi
Messi, man of the match in the Champions League final in 2011, also won the Primera Division, Spanish Supercopa, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup last year.
"Critics have always questioned whether players like Pele from the 50s could play today," said Ferguson.
"The answer to that is great players would play in any generation. Lionel Messi could play in the 1950s and the present day, as could Di Stefano, Pele, Maradona, Cruyff because they are all great players.
"Lionel Messi without question fits into that category."