Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson has always backed Cristiano Ronaldo - but Lionel Messi is emphatically dispelling doubts the managerial great once had about the Barcelona icon

Lionel Messi smiling during an Inter Miami match

Lionel Messi is evidently enjoying himself after signing for Inter Miami

Lionel Messi is dismissing doubts that legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once had about him merely a month into his Inter Miami.

Messi, 36, is having a transformative effect on the MLS club mere weeks after debuting for them in the Leagues Cup. The World Cup winner has led the team to their first cup final in the club’s five-year history after playing only half a dozen games.

By making it to this stage, Inter Miami have guaranteed qualification into the CONCACAF Champions Cup. That is similarly something they have never previously achieved.

Individually, Messi is performing as well as ever. Across six games, he has scored nine goals and assisted another as the new look team has progressed through the competition.

However, achieving such success outside of Barcelona is something Ferguson was openly uncertain about ever happening when discussing the Messi versus Ronaldo debate back in 2015. “People say, ‘Who is the best player in the world?’ And plenty of people quite rightly say Messi - you can’t dispute that opinion,” he explained.

“But Ronaldo could play for Millwall, Queens Park Rangers, Doncaster Rovers … anyone, and score a hat-trick in a game. I’m not sure Messi could do it.

“Ronaldo’s got two feet; he’s quick, great in the air, he’s brave - Messi’s brave, of course. I think Messi’s a Barcelona player.”

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Lionel Messi celebrates scoring for Inter Miami Messi is already making a mockery of many predictions in MLS

While Messi has yet to score a hat-trick in any of his six games, he did score three consecutive braces against Atlanta United, Orlando City and FC Dallas during the early stages of the Leagues Cup. He has, however, scored at least once in every game.

The impact that he is having on a team such as Doncaster, Millwall or QPR is clear to see. The _Opta Power Rankings _ have Inter Miami as the 372nd-best team in the world. Comparatively, Millwall sits over 150 places higher.

However, the real impact becomes apparent when looking at these same rankings from when Messi officially signed in South Beach a month ago. Back then, they ranked 875th, a pair of places better than Hibernian but a few worse than Cardiff City.

Ferguson, though, was not alone in doubting the impact Messi could have. A year earlier than the recently retired United manager made those comments, Jason Kreis, then the incoming head coach of New York City FC, made an even more damning prediction.

“I firmly believe that if you put Lionel Messi on the worst team in Major League Soccer, they would still be the worst team in Major League Soccer,” he said in 2014. Remarkably, Kreis almost ended up coaching Messi this summer.

However, after helping make Inter Miami the worst team in MLS, he was relieved of his assistant coaching duties when the club parted company with Phil Neville at the start of June. Messi is already answering his doubters.