MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo may be the world's most expensive footballer, but Barcelona star Lionel Messi outshines him in terms of media value, at least according to a team of Spanish researchers.

The team from the University of Navarra said the Argentine had ousted the Portuguese striker as the player with the highest profile last season. However, Ronaldo remains the most expensive player, with the researchers valuing him at 82 million euros, less than the world record 93 million Real Madrid paid Manchester United for him. Messi was next at 80 million, followed by Liverpool's Spanish striker Fernando Torres at 67 million.

The study cited Barcelona's European Champions League victory, and Messi's goal in the final, for his leap to No 1 in the media rankings over last year's winner Ronaldo. It forecast "an exciting media fight between these two brilliant players" next season. In team rankings, it recorded a "technical tie" between Barcelona (86.2 points) and Manchester United (86.0 points).