While undoubtedly the two best players on the planet, the Real Madrid star is often viewed in a lesser light than Messi given the Argentine’s recent dominance of the Ballon D’Or - he has three to Ronaldo’s one.
It’s frequently reported that Ronaldo is bitter at playing second fiddle to the diminutive Barca hero, and while he didn’t deny such a claim, he did express his respect for his rival.
“Messi is a great player. [We have] a professional relationship like I have with other players,” the Portuguese forward said ahead of Real Madrid’s crunch Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night.
“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.”
Barely a week goes by where the prolific pair’s performances are not dissected and weighed up against each other. Asked if he was sick of the constant comparisons, Ronaldo added: “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.”
And in what will surely have fantasy football geeks the world over salivating, Ronaldo even claimed he’d have no problem playing alongside Messi. However, ‘Leo’ would have to make the controversial switch from the Nou Camp to the Bernabeu for it to ever 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.” Meanwhile, Real’s encounter with the Bundesliga champions looms as crucial in determining Los Merengues’ fate in Europe’s elite competition.
Jose Mourinho’s side were stunned 2-1 by Dortmund last month. And while victory in Madrid will them see top Group D, another defeat will pile on the pressure ahead of their meeting away at Manchester City later this month.