Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has insisted that there is no rivalry between himself and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. “I respect him.”
The duo, who have scored 227 League goals between them since Ronaldo’s arrival at Real in 2009, were announced yesterday as in the three-man shortlist for UEFA’S Best Player in Europe award.
The pair are also heavily tipped to again occupy the top two spots in voting at FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award later in the year and to again be challenging each other in Spain for the Pichichi race.
However, Argentine Messi does not think that this means that he and Ronaldo are direct rivals.
“I respect him, but I have no relationship with him, nor so with many other players,” he told daily newspaper Ole today.
“I see him on the pitch. I socialise with my fellow teammates, with those in the national team, with the Argentine players with whom I have gotten to know over the years.
“With Cristiano there is no anger or anything. Everything is created by the media, the Press, who want to have a duel between us, but I have never competed with Cristiano nor fought against him.
“I try to do my job, which is to play well and to win titles with the national team and Barcelona.”
During Euro 2012, Ronaldo again hit out at opposition fans chanting ‘Messi, Messi’ to him. The No 10 was asked how he felt about fans goading Ronaldo.
“Nothing. I’m happy with how people treat me when I go to any stage, but I’m not the one having to handle that so I can’t say anything about it.
“I’ve not experienced that so I don’t know how it feels.”
The player reflected on who he believes could be in the running for the next Ballon d’Or. Messi has won the last three in a row, equalling a record set by Michel Platini in the 1980s.
“Xavi [Hernandez] and [Andres] Iniesta, because they are doing the right things and the important things like winning the European Championships with their national team.
“Also there is Cristiano, who is a great player, and Iker Casillas, who is being spoken about for it. But on a friendship level, I would hope that Xavi or Iniesta win it.”