Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale.

London – Rio Ferdinand does not believe Spurs’ Gareth Bale is in the same league as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi yet.

Manchester United defender Ferdinand, 34, said on Twitter: “People mentioning Bale in the same breath as Ronaldo and Messi really don’t know football.

“Bale has been one of the best two in the Premier League this year but he is not on Ronaldo or Messi’s level yet. If he carries on doing what he is doing for two or three years then there can be a debate. Bale showed me a clean pair of heels ... so I’m in a good position to judge. Ronaldo and Messi have been on another planet for four or five years.”

With Ronaldo in mind, the news that Phil Jones is almost certain to miss United’s Champions League second leg against Real Madrid on Tuesday with ankle ligament damage is a serious blow. Jones, 21, has not been able to run since he suffered the injury challenging Reading striker Jobi McAnuff last week.

Losing Jones would damage United’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals after he did well in the 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu in a defensive midfield role.

United scouts were in Ecuador last night to watch Barcelona SC centre back Frickson Erazo, 24, for the second time in a week as they faced Boca Juniors. – Daily Mail