Cristiano Ronaldo says he sees little point in being compared with Lionel Messi, but accepts that talk of a rivalry is embedded in modern football.
The Real Madrid star beat Messi to the Ballon d’Or and inaugural The Best FIFA Men’s Player awards for 2016 after winning the Champions League and Euro 2016 for club and country.
The debate over who is the finest player in the game today regularly dominates the headlines, not least because of the fierce rivalry between Spain’s most successful two clubs.
Ronaldo claims that comparisons have even been drawn between his and Barcelona star Messi’s children in the past, but says it is something that his little real impact.
“He tries to do his best for the team and I do the same for mine,” Ronaldo said after being named MVP for 2016 by Chinese site Dongqiudi. “We’re rivals because we play for different clubs, but when we’re together there’s a mutual respect.
“I have a normal relationship with him. People compare us all the time, it’s normal. They even compared our sons when they were born, who is quicker at school… it’s part of the business.
“But I don’t think you can compare things. Cristiano is Cristiano and Messi is Messi. We’re both great players. The individual and collective titles speak for themselves.
“I don’t like to compare; this word doesn’t exist for me. We’re different, two people doing their job. That’s all.”
Thanks for the support of Chinese fans. Glad to be the 懂球帝(All Football) 2016 best player. pic.twitter.com/O5FEQYouyh
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) January 24, 2017
Ronaldo has suffered a dip in form that has prompted a backlash from some Madrid fans, however, while Messi took his tally for the season to 28 goals in 26 games in Barcelona’s 4-0 LaLiga win over Eibar on Sunday.
However, speaking ahead of Madrid’s crucial Copa del Rey quarter-final second leg against Celta Vigo at Balaidos, the 31-year-old says he has no interest in trying to win over his critics.
“It doesn’t matter to me. I just try to do my job. Everyone has people they hate, it’s not only me. It’s part of the job,” he said.
“I go to bed every day in a good mood. I sleep well every night. I’m not here to make my detractors happy, I’m here to make my supporters happy, the ones who show me respect and affection, who are with me all the time. That’s the most important thing for me.”