Former Barcelona ace Xavi has denied the fact that he previously labelled Cristiano Ronaldo inferior to Lionel Messi in terms of intelligence.
The Portuguese star led a sensational comeback against Wolfsburg, scoring a brilliant hat-trick, guiding Real Madrid into the final four of the Champions League on Tuesday, while the world witnessed a contrasting picture the following night when Barcelona were knocked out of the competition by Atletico Madrid.
Xavi claims he was misquoted about the comments he made on who he thinks is currently the best in the world.
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Speaking to Spanish newspaper AS, the Spaniard said: “The translation of what I said was erroneous. I said that there are two types of speed in football. There is the physical side, and in this aspect, Messi and Cristiano are at the same level.
“And then there is the speed at which you are able to connect with your teammates, and in this aspect Messi is of the highest level, whereas Cristiano is not.”
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However, he cites the example of Ronaldo not being a team player and explained why he still rates his former colleague Messi ahead of the Portuguese captain in that respect.
“Cristiano does not seem like a player who excels at linking up with his teammates. He is not a passer of the ball and that is why Messi is the best in the world for me.”
“I never talked about intelligence and I never said Cristiano lacks intelligence.”
NOT WELL RECEIVED
The 36-year-old’s previous statements degrading the Los Blancos forward didn’t go down well with the Madrid faithful and with the Blaugrana failing to match Real Madrid in Europe this term, Xavi was given the opportunity to retract his comments.
The Catalan giants have encountered a dramatic collapse in form in recent weeks that has fuelled the debate if they will still retain their La Liga title or plummet domestically as well.
TITLE RACE HEATS UP
In contrast, Real Madrid have suddenly reemerged as potential title contenders and with city rivals Atletico and only four points now separate the top three.
Ronaldo remains a pivotal part of the Galacticos going into the final phase of the 2015-16 campaign, which could also see him winning the Pichichi award as the leading scorer in the country.
Real Madrid face Getafe next on Saturday while Diego Simeone’s men welcome Granada at Vicente Calderon and Barcelona entertain Valencia on Sunday.