Cristiano Ronaldo Talks Lionel Messi Rivalry: He 'Makes Me a Better Player'

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2019

TURIN, ITALY - AUGUST 14:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus arrives prior to the Pre-season Friendly match between Juventus A and Juventus B on August 14, 2019 in Villar Perosa near Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo said his rivalry with Barcelona's Lionel Messi has pushed him to become a better player.

Ronaldo spoke to Portuguese channel TVI (h/t RMC Sport, via Goal) about his relationship with the Argentinian, against whom he has been pitted throughout his career:

The former Real Madrid man also revealed his admiration for Messi:

"I really admire the career he has had so far, and, for his part, he has already said that he had trouble when I left the Spanish league because it is a rivalry that he appreciates.

"It is a good rivalry that exists in football, but this is no exception. Michael Jordan had rivals in basketball, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were great rivals in Formula One, the only common point between all the big rivalries in the sport is that they are healthy."

While the pair are not close, Ronaldo suggested they could become friends: "I have never been to dinner with him, but why not in the future? I would have no problem with doing that."

For the past decade or more, the players have been the subject of endless debate as to which one is the best in the world.

The 34-year-old recently renewed it when he discussed their accomplishments in the UEFA Champions League:

Ronaldo has won the competition on five occasions—once with Manchester United, four times with Madrid—while all four of Messi's triumphs have been with Barcelona.

Last season, for the first time since 2013, neither player won the Champions League because Liverpool were victorious.

Messi has 10 league titles to Ronaldo's six, and he has the edge overall in terms of club honours with 33—Ronaldo has 27.

The Portugal international has won the UEFA European Championship and UEFA Nations League with his national side, though, while Messi has had to endure the heartbreak of defeats in four major finals with Argentina.

They also each boast some astonishing individual numbers. Ronaldo has scored 689 goals and assisted 247 in 961 appearances for club and country. Messi, two years younger, has played 823 matches in his career, scoring 671 times and assisting 286 goals.

Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker has come down on the latter's side of the debate:

Wherever you stand on the matter, the two are remarkable players and will be remembered among the best to play the game.

That they have both been part of the same generation has not only invited direct comparison, but it has also inspired them to reach new heights, as Ronaldo said.

Given their incredible talent, both would have succeeded regardless, but perhaps without the other they would not have achieved quite as much.

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