Messi: Ronaldo rivalry only on the pitch

Cristiano Ronaldo did not vote for Lionel Messi for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award, but the Barcelona captain played down their rivalry.

Lionel Messi says his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo is only on the pitch.

Messi and Ronaldo were seen chatting at August’s UEFA awards ceremony as Virgil van Dijk claimed the Men’s Player of the Year award.

The same trio were nominated for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award with Messi pipping Van Dijk into second and Ronaldo in third at Monday’s Milan prizegiving.

Messi and Ronaldo have each won five Ballons d’Or having spent their careers vying for individual honours, as well as for team trophies with Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

Released results for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award showed Messi put Ronaldo second in his vote while the Portugal superstar did not include the Barcelona captain in his selection.

Asked why people are surprised to see him getting along with Ronaldo, Messi told FIFA’s official website: “Because of the big sporting rivalry that’s developed between us over the last few years. Because one us played for Barcelona and the other for Madrid, and because we won individual awards.

“People perhaps think the rivalry goes beyond football, but it doesn’t. We both want what’s best for our teams and neither of us like losing. It’s something we don’t accept.

“That’s why there’s that competitiveness between us. The important thing is that it stays there, out on the pitch.”

 

Messi is now helping to develop Barcelona’s 16-year-old forward Ansu Fati, who has exploded on to the scene in LaLiga this season.

“I really like him and I try to help and support him,” the Argentina attacker added. “He’s an amazing player and he’s got what it takes to succeed.

“But if I look at it through my eyes, I’d like them to bring him on gradually, like they did with me when I started, taking things nice and easy and without putting pressure on him.

“You have to remember that he’s only 16. I hope he keeps on enjoying it and that all the fuss around him doesn’t have a negative impact on him because he has the quality to become one of the best.”

 

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