Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has insisted that he has always respected and admired Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
As reported by Sport, the Argentine superstar, who recently racked up his fifth Ballon d'Or award, has admitted that he does have a rivalry with Ronaldo but also has a great deal of respect for him.
Messi and Ronaldo, of course, have racked up the last eight consecutive Ballon d'Or awards with the former boasting five successes.
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When speaking about Ronaldo, Messi stated: "Even though we are rivals, we have always respected each other and felt admiration for the other one."
With Messi playing for Barcelona and Ronaldo starring for Real Madrid, this stimulating rivalry may well continue for many years to come.
Closing the gap
But can anyone close the gap over the coming years? Well, it's clear for all to see that Neymar is slowly but surely closing the gap - the Brazil international secured third spot at this year's Ballon d'Or ceremony.
The Barcelona star has been one of the most consistently brilliant players in world football recently and continues to go from strength-to-strength. Luis Suarez, who completes Barcelona's incredible attack, is also getting closer to the world's best two players.
Ultimately, though, the decline of Ronaldo and Messi still hasn't really begun. They have the ability and class to carry on dominating the world of football for at least the next couple of years.
Do you expect Neymar to win the Ballon d'Or in the near future? Have your say below!