Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes Cristiano Ronaldo's recent comments about Barcelona’s revered attacking trio are indicative of his frustration that Real Madrid's great rivals are currently hogging all the spotlight.
The Portuguese superstar insisted off-field relationships "don't mean anything," claiming he didn’t speak to some of his former Manchester United colleagues, including Ferdinand, when the side won the Champions League in 2007-08.
“That just shows the emotion he's got in him and the desire to win and the desire to get back on top,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport, per Joe Ridge of the MailOnline. “At the moment everyone's talking about Barcelona and he's not happy with that. And that's his competitive streak coming out.”
Jokingly, the ex-defender also offered another reason behind the comments made by Ronaldo about his time at Old Trafford. “I actually used to take the mick out of him in the changing rooms, I think he's got the hump,” he revealed. “He used to come in in tight jeans and we used to murder him. He didn't get it.”
Here’s a reminder of what Ronaldo had to say on Tuesday when asked whether Barca are performing better than Real because of the affection between the front three, per Ridge:
I am going to tell you something. When I was at United, I didn't speak [off the pitch] to [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes and [Rio] Ferdinand apart from the normal 'good morning' but we won the Champions League.
We talked on the pitch and that is all that mattered. Does it matter that I don't go out for dinner with Benzema or that Bale does not come around my house? It is not important. This thing about the little meals, the little hugs, the little kisses. To me that doesn't mean anything.
Barcelona have drawn so many plaudits over the last 18 months for the manner in which they’ve played. Messi, Neymar and Suarez are not only arguably the three best footballers in the world at the moment, but they link up so well together off the field. It’s made the Blaugrana a formidable attacking force.
This was summed up by Messi squaring a penalty for Suarez to complete his hat-trick during the 6-1 win over Celta Vigo at the weekend.
As Spanish football expert Sergi Dominguez noted recently, off the field they seem as happy in each other’s company as on it:
Neymar bought a new house in Castelldefells today, just beside where Messi and Suárez live.— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) February 15, 2016
Ronaldo also plays alongside superstars at the point of the Real attack in Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, but there isn’t quite the same chemistry there. Sure, there have been moments of genius conjured by the three and their exceptional link-up helped Real to the Champions League in 2013-14.
However, there have been some signs of tension between the players on more than one occasion. Ronaldo appeared to be frustrated with Bale last season when he didn’t play him in for a chance against Espanyol, per the Press Association (h/t the Guardian). The Portuguese also seemed unhappy when his team-mate scored against Levante last term:
Of course, as Ronaldo noted, being best friends off the field isn’t necessarily linked to success.
If Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale can thrive in the run-in and push Los Blancos to some kind of silverware, there will be vindication to the Portuguese’s claims.