Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has opened up about his relationship with his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo, claiming their relationship does not go beyond mutual respect.
The famously quiet Argentine prodigy is speaking for the first time about his eternal rival, with both men generally considered the greatest players of their generation, having scooped the ballon d’Or on the last eight occasions.
Messi and Ronaldo are generally regarded as the two greatest players presently. Image: French Football
Their battle for the top spot has been the most intriguing in modern sports and their allegiance to the Spanish football archrivals has left many with the impression they can’t stand each other.
While Messi, 28, insists that they show respect towards one another, he didn’t go as far as saying they enjoy a pleasant relationship.
Speaking to Argentine daily El Grafico, the five-time ballon d’Or winner said: “We are professionals that defend our teams, and rivals in this game, nothing more than that.
“Sometimes it happens that we win or that we lose. There has always been respect and nothing more.”
Barca’s Leo Messi takes on Ronaldo in the Clasico. Image: Marca
Messi, who recently became the first footballer with 300 La Liga goals, also boasts seven Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and four Champions League winners’ medals on his incredible list of achievements with the Blaugrana.
However, the diminutive genius has yet to taste international success, having been a losing finalist in the 2014 World Cup and 2007 and 2015 Copa Americas.
With 49 international goals, he is also closing in on Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time record of 57 for Argentina, but has stressed that it is major honours that mater to him, and not individual accolades.
“I prefer to win something with the national team,” he said. “I am not interested in records. They are there, but that does not make you win titles.