Barcelona star Lionel Messi believes rivals Real Madrid are now ‘less good’ following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus.
The Portuguese star left the European champions in a €100m deal this summer, ending a direct rivalry in La Liga in which both players broke multiple scoring records.
“Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and they have a great squad [but] it's evident that the absence of Ronaldo makes them less good and makes Juventus [one of the] clear favourites to win the Champions League,” Messi told Catalunya Radio, as cited by ESPN FC.
“It surprised me [when he left]. I didn't imagine him leaving Madrid or joining Juventus. There were a lot of teams that wanted him. It surprised me, but he has gone to a very good team.”
Madrid have attempted to replace Ronaldo in the squad with the return of striker Mariano Diaz from Olympique Lyonnais, with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema afforded greater prominence.