Cristiano Ronaldo’s professionalism and determination set him apart from Lionel Messi and Neymar, according to Real Madrid great Roberto Carlos.
The Portugal star won the Ballon d’Or for the fifth time in his career this year, having inspired Madrid to success in LaLiga, the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, the Supercopa de Espana and the Club World Cup.
Ronaldo has endured a rocky run of form in domestic competition in 2017-18, however, scoring just four times in 12 league appearances, while Messi has been pivotal in inspiring Barcelona to build a a nine-point lead at the top of the table.
But Roberto Carlos believes Ronaldo has the edge on long-time rival Messi and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar due to his drive to improve on a daily basis.
“These days, when you talk about football, you talk about Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo,” the former full-back told Fox Sports.
“Cristiano has worked to improve. When you talk about the Ballon d’Or or any other prize, it’s not just any person who votes, it’s people who know football, who follow the stats of the players and pick the best in the world.
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) December 18, 2017
“I watch him train every day and the way he works is exciting. He wants to improve every day.
“That’s the difference with Messi. Leo is a phenomenon, we never talk about Neymar… but that side of Cristiano, of training, professionalism, focus, motivation, success… Cristiano has an advantage over all the others.”
Although Ronaldo still rules the roost at the Santiago Bernabeu, Roberto Carlos has backed rising Brazil star Vinicius Junior to become a leading player in the Spanish capital.
The 17-year-old signed for Madrid in May this year but is expected to stay at Flamengo until July 2019 before linking up with the European champions.
“I’m not going to say that he’s ready because he’s still very young, but what Real Madrid have done, thinking about the future of the club, I think is perfect both for Real Madrid and Flamengo,” Roberto Carlos said of his compatriot.
“He’s coming to Europe to learn, to accelerate the learning process as a player and as a man.
“He knows playing for Real Madrid won’t be easy because the Bernabeu is very big, the fans demand a lot. To be a Real Madrid player should make him very proud and very motivated.
“He has an even bigger responsibility today to improve day by day. I wish him a lot of luck because, I’m certain, he’s going to become an idol within this club.”
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