Messi: I respect Ronaldo, but nothing more

The Barcelona star insists there is a mutual respect between himself and his Real Madrid counterpart, but admits that he does not count the Portuguese as a friend

Barcelona star Lionel Messi insists there is a mutual respect between himself and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, but admits their relationship does not go beyond that.

Messi and Ronaldo are widely considered the best players of the modern era, with the debate over which of the two is the greatest splitting players, pundits and fans alike.

No player outside the superstar duo has won the Ballon d'Or since 2007 and the battle for number one, as well as their allegiance to Spanish football's rival superpowers, has led to rumours that they dislike each other.

While Messi insists that they show respect towards one another, he stopped short of saying they have a pleasant relationship.

"We are professionals that defend our teams, and rivals in this game, nothing more than that," Messi told Argentine newspaper El Grafico.

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"Sometimes it happens that we win or that we lose. There has always been respect and nothing more."

Messi counts seven La Liga titles, three Copa del Reys and four Champions League winners' medals on his incredible list of achievements with Barcelona, but is yet to taste international success, having been a losing finalist in the 2014 World Cup and 2007 and 2015 Copa Americas.

The 28-year-old has 49 international goals to his name and is closing in on Gabriel Batistuta's record of 57 for Argentina, but Messi insisted it is major honours as opposed to individual accolades that motivate him.

"I prefer to win something with the national team," he said. "I am not interested in records. They are there, but that does not make you win titles."