Barcelona forward Leo Messi says he respects Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo but has stopped short of admitted they are friends off the pitch.
Between them the pair has won every Ballon d’Or on offer since 2008 and they are widely considered to be two of the best players to have ever played the beautiful game. Much debate has taken place in the media, in pubs and bars and many living rooms around the world as to who is the greatest player between them.
Rumours have long suggested that while there is mutual respect for each other the fact that they play for two of the biggest rivals in world football means they do not get on.
And in an interview with El Grafico, Messi stopped short of labelling Ronaldo a friend.
He stated: “We are professionals that defend our teams, and rivals in this game, nothing more than that. Sometimes it happens that we win or that we lose. There has always been respect and nothing more.”
Messi has been part of the Barcelona side to have won seven La Liga trophies, four Champions Leagues and three Copa del Rey medals. Since moving to Madrid in 2009, Ronaldo has become the club’s all time leading scorer. In terms of trophies, he has lifted the Champions League, La Liga and two Copas del Rey.