Lionel Messi hails 'phenomenal' Cristiano Ronaldo after Champions League triumph

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Barcelona and Real Madrid players do not regularly praise one another, but the Argentine made an exception for the Portuguese ace

Lionel Messi hailed the quality of Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portugal star helped Real Madrid to retain their Champions League title.

The Barcelona icon and Ronaldo are often competing for the top team and individual honours in the world game, with the Madrid forward hot favourite to win his fifth Ballon d'Or in 2017.

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That would see the former Manchester United star match the Argentina international after his side's 4-1 final win over Juventus in Cardiff.

Messi, though, insisted the perceived rivalry between the pair is hyped up by the media and was happy to talk up Ronaldo's ability. 

Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Barcelona Real Madrid

Ronaldo's constant drive to improve is what most impressed Messi, who labelled him as one of the world's best players.

"That thing about our rivalry is something more invented by the press than by us," Messi said to Tencent Sports.

"What we want is to do our best every year, to do the best for our teams and what is spoken from outside is not something I give importance to. 

"He is a phenomenal player who has many qualities that year after year he improves and that is why he is one of the best in the world."