Messi spoke to 'France Football' about the rivalry between the two throughout their sporting careers. "I always wanted to better myself and not look at what others were doing. With Cristiano, we kept the rivalry going for years. It's been wonderful and it's helped us grow in our careers, but without looking at each other. I just wanted to be the best, not more than him," he said.
On whether he considers himself the best player in history, he denied that he feels that way: "I never said I'm the best ever and I'm not trying to make myself think that. For me, being considered the best is enough, it's something I would never have imagined. It doesn't interest me, it doesn't make any difference whether I am or not, and I never sought it.
Nor does Messi want to be compared to Maradona. "I've never liked or paid attention to those comments. Some criticisms bothered me in the past. I had bad moments with Argentina, but not because of that," he said.
He had kind words also for team-mate Neymar, who offered him the '10' when he signed for PSG, but Messi turned it down. "That number was his. I came to a new team to help. It was an extraordinary gesture on his part, I expected it because I know Neymar. We spent time at Barcelona and we are friends. It seemed fairer to me that he should keep the '10'. I took the '30', which I also liked," he said.
Messi regretted not having celebrated the Champions League that Barca won in 2006 because of his anger, as he did not play in that game. "I regret that. At that moment I was thinking that I hadn't played. I was disappointed, although I was able to play until the last 16. I regret that episode. We won the Champions League and I wasn't sure if we could do it again, but then fortunately I was able to enjoy it," he explained.
This is how he defined himself as a player: "I've always had the freedom to move wherever I wanted, without respecting a position too much. I don't know if I've felt pressure in the years I've played, I've only had the obligation to get results and be precise. I feel good and I try to enjoy myself on the pitch.
As for the person behind the footballer Messi, he admitted that, at times, he wishes he wasn't known. "I've been Messi for 34 years, I'm used to everything around me, although sometimes I'd like to go unnoticed, but I'm not complaining. I'm used to it, it's something that has become normal.
Standout matches today