The former Roma striker has also criticised Paris Saint-Germain for paying £198million for Neymar in the summer.
And Ronaldo picked up his fifth Ballon d’Or this season, taking his tally level with Messi’s.
But Totti, who racked up 786 appearances for the Serie A club, thinks that the Argentina international is still the No1 player in the world, despite losing out to Ronaldo in all major honours this year.
“Messi is number one, but don’t tell Cristiano and Neymar I said that,” Totti said.
“We’re going through a difficult moment in Italian football.
“It’s difficult for our teams to compete with the potential of Real Madrid, Barcelona or the English teams.”
PSG prized Neymar away from Barcelona in the summer by blowing the world record transfer fee out of the water.
And he has since lit up Ligue 1 with a series of dazzling performances.
But Totti does not think anybody is worth a price tage of that magnitude.
“The €222m that PSG paid for Neymar doesn’t make sense to me,” he added.
“These numbers are out of reality.
“I prefer football the way it was long ago, it’s changed too much, it’s a business today.”