It seems that Jose Mourinho’s opinion on the age-old Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi debate may have changed since leaving Real Madrid.
Back in October 2012, Mourinho was quoted as telling Portuguese newspaper A Bola by the Independent: "If Messi is the best on the planet, Ronaldo is the best in the universe.”
Real Madrid managers have to toe the party line when it comes to Ronaldo. If they don’t, like Rafa Benitez when he initially arrived at the Bernabeu last summer, there’s a good chance they won’t last long at the club.
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It’s three years since Mourinho left the Bernabeu and, during that time, he’s been a lot more complimentary about Messi.
"I think this guy makes the gap by himself,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by ESPN in 2015. “You have doubts that [Manchester] City with Messi can win the Champions League? Or Arsenal with Messi can win the Champions League? Or Chelsea with Messi can win the Champions League? Or Man United with Messi can win the Champions League? Don't you think? I think.
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"I am saying that a team with that boy is a different team, is a different story."
Mourinho on the best three players ever
And now, according to Catalan newspaper Sport, comes the final proof that Mourinho actually considers Messi a greater player than Ronaldo.
In fact, the Portuguese tactician apparently regards Messi as one of the three best players in history, alongside Pele and Diego Maradona.
Mourinho’s son, Jose Mourinho Jr, retweeted a quote from his father confirming this.
"For me the three best players in history are Messi, Pele and Maradona,” Mourinho is understood to have told reporters.
It's not been a good summer for Messi
Messi will be remembered as one of the game’s all-time greats, but it’s not been a good summer for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
He was left in tears after Argentina were beaten by Chile in the Copa America final and announced his international retirement hours later.
And earlier this month he was handed a suspended 21-month prison sentence after being found guilty of three tax offences.
Furthermore, his chances of winning a record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or took a major blow after Cristiano Ronaldo helped Portugal win the European Championships in France.
Will Lionel Messi be remembered as a greater player than Cristiano Ronaldo? Have your say by leaving a comment below.