Lionel Messi says he misses facing rival Cristiano Ronaldo, and revealed he is considering a return to Argentina before he retires.
For almost a decade, the two best players in the world both competed in Spain as Lionel Messi was at Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo was at Real Madrid, something the Argentine thinks was a positive.
Messi, a five-times Ballon d’Or winner, has begun 2019 in fine form with his Barcelona side running away with La Liga and through to the Champions League quarter-finals, with Real Madrid struggling having sold Ronaldo to Juventus in the summer.
Ronaldo enjoyed huge success in Madrid, winning three successive Champions League crowns and, speaking on an Argentine radio station on Friday, Messi surprised listeners with a confession about his former rival.
The Portuguese forward was at Real Madrid from 2009 until last summer and Messi enjoyed the challenge that brought.
“I miss Cristiano in Spain,” Messi told Radio C5N. “It was lovely having him here, even though it annoyed me seeing him win so many titles. It would be great if he was still here.”
“It was nice to have Ronaldo in LaLiga for the prestige it brought,” Messi has admitted in an interview with Radio C5N.
Messi also returned to international action last week in a lackluster 3-1 defeat by Venezuela, a game that was his first for the national side since he took a break following the 2018 World Cup.
While he didn’t include the No.7 in his list of the top five players right now, he did praise him when discussing Juventus‘ Champions League chances.
“I have a lot of respect for Juventus and they’re a major candidate for the title,” he said.
“They’re a really good team and even more so with Ronaldo.”
The 31-year-old said going from Barcelona to Argentina was difficult and blamed their poor performances in Russia on a swift transition from promoting younger players to take up senior positions in the team.
“I think the generational change was very brusque,” Messi said. “It should have been done slower. You need to give the kids time and confidence. The change was a really big one.”
Messi said he was still tortured by the loss of the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in extra-time and warned fans not to expect too much from Argentina at this year’s Copa America in Brazil.
“Do you know the number of times I’ve replayed the final and the chances we had? It would have been so different if we’d scored one of them,” he added.
“Being realistic, a lot of work is needed to be a powerhouse. These kids have played very few matches for the national team. We need to be patient and I have no doubt that we are going to be strong.”