'I miss Cristiano' - Barcelona star Lionel Messi says ex Real Madrid rival gave La Liga prestige

Aditya Devavrat 13:26 30/03/2019
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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has revealed his belief that La Liga has lost some prestige since long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer departure from Real Madrid.

Ronaldo left Los Blancos last summer in a shock transfer to Juventus, ending a nine-year spell in which he and Messi were competing in the same league and establishing their reign over the football world. The duo split the 10 Ballon d’Or awards from 2008 to 2017 before Luka Modric, Ronaldo’s erstwhile team-mate at Madrid, became, last year, the first man not named Ronaldo or Messi to win the award since Kaka in 2008.

The two players have been the centre of debate over the last decade as fans on either side proclaim each one to be the greatest footballer of all time.

There is a chance that this season’s Champions League final will put the two of them against each other, after Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the second leg of Juventus’ round of 16 tie against Atletico Madrid to lead them back from a 2-0 first leg deficit and into the quarter-finals.

A day later, a vintage Messi performance helped Barcelona brush aside Lyon, and the draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals kept their teams apart, ensuring they can only meet if both teams progress to the May 31 final at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Though it’s no guarantee, Messi is looking forward to a potential showdown with his rival for club football’s biggest prize.

“I miss Cristiano,” he told FM Club 947 in Argentina. “Although it was a bit difficult to see him win trophies, he gave La Liga prestige.

“Juventus are a great candidate to win the Champions League since the arrival of Cristiano, and the match against Atleti must have given them a lot of confidence.”

Messi was also asked who he thinks are the best players in world football apart from himself, and said that Ronaldo deserves the same exception, before naming team-mate Luis Suarez as one of five players he considers the best of the rest.

“I don’t want to forget anyone, but I think that Neymar, [Kylian] Mbappe, [Eden] Hazard, Luis Suarez and [Sergio] Aguero are the best,” Messi added.

“I didn’t mention Cristiano because I put him aside from the list with me.”

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