Joey Barton has criticised Wayne Rooney for his lack of professionalism, accusing the Manchester United forward of not fulfilling his potential as a result.
Comparing the 28-year-old striker's career trajectory with that of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, Barton said that Rooney had not taken the necessary steps to become a world-class player.
The QPR midfielder said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, as reported by Adrian Kajumba in the Daily Star:
Our [England's] players are not world class. Wayne Rooney could have been but look at his mentality compared to Cristiano Ronaldo - they're polar opposites.
Why does Ronaldo achieve what he has achieved and Rooney doesn't? Well when you see Rooney smoking cigarettes, does he live his life correctly?
People who have worked with both say Ronaldo was in the gym, honing his game. The level of discipline Ronaldo has for his profession is the reason he is the best player in his position and the reason Rooney isn't.
The former Manchester City player had more to say on the entire England setup and claimed that FA Chairman Greg Dyke should have been sacked for appearing to write off England's World Cup chances with a cutthroat gesture at the draw in December.
The controversial Barton took to Twitter to defend the comments, which he made during an interview with England rugby's 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward:
Rooney is our best player at the moment. Put in context for me, by my definition of 'World Class', he isn't. I'm sorry thats my belief.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 3, 2014
Now shall I tell you what World Class is for me. Ronaldo and Messi. Iniesta and Suarez. WC is a term thrown about far too often.— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) April 3, 2014
Rooney has 38 international goals for England from 89 appearances and needs 12 more to eclipse Sir Bobby Charlton as the country's most prolific scorer of all time, per ESPN FC.
Is Wayne Rooney a world-class player?
He has not been a big-game performer for England in major tournaments, netting only once in Euro 2012 and not at all at World Cup 2010.
With 70 days to go until the start of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Rooney has had a decent season for United, scoring 15 goals in the Premier League, per BBC Sport.
England face a tough challenge just to reach the knockout stages in Brazil as they are in a group with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy, who knocked them out of Euro 2012.
Whether Rooney will feel inclined to comment on Barton's quotes remains to be seen, but he would do better to do his talking on the pitch and put in a good showing in the summer's showpiece event.