Lionel Messi: Cristiano Ronaldo is not my rival
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has dismissed the notion that he has a rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, claiming it’s a fabrication created by the media.
The pair regularly crop up in debates about the greatest player in history, having effectively made the Ballon d’Or a head-to-head duel since 2008.
Ronaldo scooped the individual honours at the start of 2015, an event which coincided with a sudden surge in Messi’s form.
But the Argentine disputes that Ronaldo is his rival and accused the media for overhyping the matter.
"There is no rivalry," Messi told Shortlist.
"It's something the media invented. We both want to do well for our clubs, it is not Messi v Ronaldo, it never has been."
It’ll take more than a two-line riposte from Messi to persuade a lot of fans. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a rivalry, either.
They don’t have to be bitter feuds. The pair are striving for individual and team success – each representing one of Spain’s biggest clubs. When one falters, the other pushes the ‘GOAT’ pendulum into their territory, so it’s absurd to say that ‘the media’ alone are responsible for this rivalry.
Messi’s declaration comes just a few weeks after it was reported that Xavi had ripped into his team-mate at Camp Nou during Barca’s early season woe. “We can't allow ourselves to repeat what happened last season and you know it,” Xavi allegedly said, per El Pais. “Do you want Cristiano to win the Ballon d'Or again? Stop f*****g around, Leo!”
That is a far more believable tale...