Messi, Ronaldo reveal mutual respect

Barcelona's Lionel Messi managed to avoid controversy by speaking glowingly of Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo while the Portuguese did the same shortly afterwards.

Football News: Cristiano Ronaldo; Lionel Messi.

By ESPNSTAR.com staff

The Catalan forward was interviewed by El Mundo Deportivo where he was required to provide responses to one-word questions or topics posed by the Barcelona-based sports news outlet.

The three-time Ballon d'Or winner was, unsurprisingly, asked to comment on Real Madrid's Ronaldo - a player Messi has frequently locked-horns with in the battle to be named by FIFA as football's best player each year.

"Cristiano is a fantastic player," Messi said.

"I don't know him personally but he's one of the best footballers in the world."

Messi was also pressed for his thoughts on Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who is a controversial figure in the Barca-Real rivalry given his outspoken and sometimes confrontational nature.

He described Mourinho as "a brilliant manager" but the Argentinean's highest praise on the night was reserved for Barca team-mate Xavi Hernandez.

"Besides being a good player he's an amazing human being, I hold him in high esteem," Messi said.

"We've been together for a long time and the truth is that we're good friends."

Speaking to United States television beIN Sport, Ronaldo expressed a similar sentiment and revealed his respect for Lionel Messi, even if he and the Argentina superstar are "not friends".

Ronaldo described Messi as "a great player" and admitted there is nothing he can do to sidestep comparisons between the pair.

Speaking to United States television beIN Sport, the Portuguese said: "It's not just now, it's the last five years - it's always the same.

"I cannot change that. I don't work in the press, I don't work in television. They love doing that.

"What am I going to do? I have to do my work, I have to train, I have to score, I have to play, I have to try to help my team all the time and not think about that.

"Messi is a great player. [We have] a professional relationship like I have with other players.

"I'm not a friend of him because we don't share the same dressing room and do not go out for dinner, but I respect him as a professional."

Asked if the pair could one day play together, Ronaldo mischievously suggested Messi would have to make the controversial switch from the Nou Camp to the Bernabeu for that to happen.

"Play with Messi? Why not?" he said.

"No problem - if he comes here we'll play together, but me going there is more difficult."

Barcelona, Messi, Real Madrid, Ronaldo, Mourinho, and the media circus which accompanies the fascination that exists for Spain's two biggest football institutions heads to Europe this week for the midweek UEFA Champions League games.



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