Lisbon: Cristiano Ronaldo admitted Wednesday his long-time rivalry with Lionel Messi has made him ‘a better player’ and that he enjoys a ‘healthy’ rivalry with the Argentine great.
However, Portuguese star Ronaldo, whose influence at Real Madrid mirrored that of Messi at Barcelona before he left for Juventus, admitted that the pair have never socialised together.
“I really admire the career he (Lionel Messi) has had and from his side, he has already talked of the disappointment when I left Spain because it was a rivalry that he appreciated,” Cristiano Ronaldo told ‘TVI’ in Portugal.
“It’s a good rivalry but it’s not unique – but Michael Jordan had rivalries in basketball, there was Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in Formula 1. The thing they all had in common is that they were healthy rivalries,” Cristiano Ronaldo added.
Ronaldo and Messi have won the coveted Ballon d’Or five times each, a factor that helps each player flourish. “I have no doubt that Lionel Messi has made me a better player and vice-versa. When I am winning trophies it must sting him and it’s the same for me when he wins,” Ronaldo said.
“I have an excellent professional relationship because we have been sharing the same moments for 15 years. We’ve never had dinner together but I don’t see why we can’t in the future. I don’t see a problem with that,” added Ronaldo.
Meanwhile in a boost for Barcelona, their skipper Lionel Messi returned to training Wednesday with the rest of the squad after a calf injury. Messi trained alone in the morning before joining his teammates in the afternoon, increasing hopes that Barca’s captain could play a role against Real Betis in their La Liga tie, Sunday.
Messi had strained his calf August 5 in his first training session back following the Copa America and subsequently missed the club’s pre-season.
It would be a surprise if Lionel Messi started at Camp Nou, but Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will be eager to have his star available again, particularly after his team suffered a surprise 0-1 defeat by Athletic Bilbao in their opening league game last weekend.