Messi vs Ronaldo: Are they friends off the pitch? Relationship & rivalry explained

Ronaldo MessiGetty

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo possess one of the most storied rivalries in football - and sport - history, the intensity of their competitiveness beginning in 2019 when the Portugal striker moved to Real Madrid in 2009.

Ronaldo's move to Juventus in 2018 effectively ended the rivalry, but they are still considered to be the two best forwards in world football, the two still pitted against one another for the title of the one true GOAT .

The two forwards have dominated the Ballon d'Or awards in recent years, with Messi scooping up six of the awards and Ronaldo winning five. But do they get along off the pitch?

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Are Messi and Ronaldo friends?

Despite their intense rivalry, Messi and Ronaldo have a cordial relationship with one another, but according to Messi, the two are not friends - though it is clear that the two hold mutual respect for one another.

The two former rivals were seated next to each other in the front row of the 2019 UEFA Champions League draw in Monaco, with Ronaldo stating that the two had never sat down together or spent time with one another in a non-footballing context - but invited Messi to dinner one day .

"We have a good relationship, we have not had a dinner together yet, but I hope in the future," Ronaldo said.

In a later interview, Messi conceded that he did not consider the two to be friends since the two have never played for the same team , but stated that he would accept the dinner invitation.

"We're not friends because we have never shared the same dressing room, but we always meet up at the galas, we speak and there is absolutely no problem between us," the Barcelona superstar told Sport .

"That last one [the Champions League draw gala] was the one where we spoke the most because we spent the most time together.

"I don't know if we will eat together because both of us have busy lives and I'm not sure if we will be able to make them coincide, but I have no problem accepting his invite to dinner."

Ronaldo's dinner invitation came as a slight surprise, as the striker has been known to skip out on awards ceremonies when Messi was to be named winner.

The Portugal forward snubbed the 2019 Ballon d'Or ceremony after it became increasingly clear that Messi would win the top prize, therefore edging out Ronaldo 6-5 on total Ballons d'Or prizes .

Both, however, have mutual respect and admiration for each other.

"I really admire the career he has had so far and, for his part, he has already said that he had trouble when I left the Spanish league because it is a rivalry that he appreciates," Ronaldo told  TVI .  

"It is a good rivalry that exists in football, but this is no exception. Michael Jordan had rivals in basketball, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were great rivals in Formula 1, the only common point between all the big rivalries in the sport is that they are healthy. 

"Messi makes me a better player and vice versa."

Messi, in turn, admitted that Real Madrid had become a significantly weaker team following Ronaldo's departure to Juventus in 2018.

"Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and they have a great squad [but] it's evident that the absence of Ronaldo makes them less good and makes Juventus [one of the] clear favourites to win the Champions League," Messi told Catalunya Radio .

"It surprised me [when he left]. I didn't imagine him leaving Madrid or joining Juventus. There were a lot of teams that wanted him. It surprised me, but he has gone to a very good team."