Outspoken QPR midfielder Joey Barton believes that Wayne Rooney’s lack of commitment to being a top class athlete has prevented him from being a “world-class” player.

The Manchester United ace recently made headlines worldwide by penning a mega money contract at Old Trafford, putting him on a par with some of the planet’s finest players in terms of salary.

When Rooney broke onto the scene as a teenage prodigy at Everton he was tipped for the very top, but Barton believes that the forward has squandered his potential by not mirroring Cristiano Ronaldo’s desire and work ethic:

“Look at his approach and mentality compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s. Polar opposites,” he told BBC Sport.

“Rooney potentially, could have been world class. But why is Ronaldo a Ballon d’Or winner and Rooney isn’t?

“Players who have worked with both say the level of discipline Ronaldo has is the reason he is the best player in the world.”

Barton went on to suggest that choices made by Rooney away from the pitch have had a major bearing on his success on the field:

“When you see Rooney smoking cigarettes, is he doing everything he can to be the best player in the world?

“The gulf is getting wider but if it was on talent alone, Rooney is a better player than him (Ronaldo)”

Barton is no stranger to controversy, with his forthright views having made him one of football’s most divisive characters.

Rooney has enjoyed a successful career in the English top flight, winning five league titles with United as well as the Champions League.

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