Lionel Messi accuses media of inventing Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry

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Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has accused the media of 'inventing' his rivalry with Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Argentina international insists he does not regard Ronaldo as a rival - despite the fact the pair of them have been competing for the title of world's best player for the best part of seven years now.

"There is no rivalry," Messi told Shortlist. "It's something the media invented. We both want to do well for our clubs, it is not Messi vs Ronaldo, it never has been."

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While Messi is adamant that no rivalry exists between him and Ronaldo, it's no coincidence that both players have improved considerably since the latter moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.

They appear to spur each other on. If Ronaldo scores a hat-trick on the Saturday, Messi will be under pressure to do the same a day later and vice-versa. More often than not they succeed in matching their rivals' - sorry, Leo - exploits.

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Messi favourite to win 2015 Ballon d'Or

Ronaldo has made no secret of the fact he wants to finish his career widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time - but unfortunately for the Portuguese maestro, that's unlikely to happen now.

Now 30, Ronaldo will need to at least match the number of Ballon d'Or trophies that Messi wins before hanging up his boots, in order to be considered the best of all time.

He currently has three to his name, but Messi is the red-hot favourite to win the 2015 Ballon d'Or after helping Barcelona win another historic treble this season.

The 27-year-old is now in Chile for the Copa America. Should he win that, too, then it's almost certain that Messi will win the Ballon d'Or for a record-breaking fifth time.

Mutual respect exists between them

Of course, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that Ronaldo will win the prestigious individual accolade at least twice more before he hangs up his boots.

But Messi, in his 2015 form, is a level above everyone else on the planet - Ronaldo included. It's no exaggeration to suggest he could win at least another three Ballon d'Or awards before he calls it a day in about 10 years time.

Ronaldo and Messi have always been very respectful of each other and will always embrace when they meet. If any rivalry does exist between them, then it's not one generated by a mutual dislike of one another.

Does a rivalry exist between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo? Have your say in the comments below!

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La Liga
Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid

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