Barcelona star Lionel Messi considers long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo as ‘one the same level’ as him and wishes he remained in Spanish football.
The two players won nine Ballon d’Or titles between them in consecutive years between 2009 and 2017, with an intense sporting rivalry when Ronaldo was at Real Madrid.
The Portuguese superstar left the Spanish capital last summer to join Juventus in a €100m deal, with the two still widely recognised as the world’s greatest players.
“There are so many good players now. Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Luis Suarez, Eden Hazard, any of them could become the best in the world,” Messi told Radio 94.7 Club Octubre.
“I didn’t include Cristiano Ronaldo in that list, because I consider him to be on the same level as me. It was fun to play against him, even if he made me suffer too. It irritated me seeing Real Madrid lift trophies.
“I do wish he was still in Spain, but I have a great deal of respect for Juventus. They seem a very strong squad, with excellent players, and are now even stronger with Cristiano.”