Lionel Messi believes he and Cristiano Ronaldo will never share a close friendship because they do not get to spend enough time together to build the required bond.
The Barcelona and Real Madrid stalwarts have shared a formidable rivalry throughout their La Liga careers and have collected myriad individual honours between them.
But while Messi claims the alleged enmity is very much created by the media, he also admits the pair are unlikely to ever consider one another friends, if only because they rarely get the time to speak.
He said, “I don’t know if we will be. Friendship is built through spending time together and getting to know each other.
“We have no relationship, mainly because we only see each other at awards ceremonies and that’s the only time we speak.
“Everything is fine, but our lives don’t cross over very often.”
Both Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the footballing sphere for the last decade and have shared the last nine Ballon d’Or awards (Messi 5, Ronaldo 4) – the Portuguese is currently heavy favourite to equal the standings for 2017.
But with both of them now into their 30s, Messi believes a new generation of players will soon take their places at the top and backs team-mate Luis Suarez, former Barcelona companion Neymar and Paris Saint-Germain sensation Kylian Mbappe to challenge for the coveted golden ball in the near future.
He said, “There are many great players around today who can win the Ballon d’Or. In recent years, there have just been two, but now players like Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Luis Suarez can compete for that award.”