Barcelona star Lionel Messi insists there is a mutual respect between himself and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi and Ronaldo are widely considered the best players of the modern era, with the debate over which of the two is the greatest splitting players, pundits and fans alike.
No player outside the superstar duo has won the Ballon d’Or since 2007 and the battle for number one, as well as their allegiance to Spanish football’s rival superpowers, has led to rumours they dislike each other.
Argentina star Messi, though, has rejected those claims.
“We are professionals that defend our teams, and rivals in this game, nothing more than that,” Messi told Argentine newspaper El Grafico.
“Sometimes it happens that we win or that we lose. There has always been respect and nothing more.”
Messi counts seven La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and four Champions League winners’ medals on his incredible list of achievements with Barcelona and he is also the club’s record goalscorer.
However, that has yet to translate to success on the international scene, Messi a losing finalist in the 2014 World Cup, as well as the 2007 and 2015 Copa Americas.
The 28-year-old has 49 international goals to his name and is closing in on Gabriel Batistuta’s record of 57 for Argentina, but Messi insisted it is major honours not individual accolades that motivate him.
“I prefer to win something with the national team,” he said. “I am not interested in records. They are there, but that does not make you win titles.”