- Lionel Messi seems to be missing his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the Spanish League this term
- The Portuguese star joined Juventus from Real Madrid immediately after the 2018 World Cup in Russia
- Messi says contention with the 33-year-old gave him more reasons to strive for excellence in his career
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has described his rivalry with Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo as a healthy one needed for football fans to enjoy themselves.
The two football icons won five Ballon d'Or awards each in the space of ten years, mostly when the duo played against each other in the Spanish League.
Ronaldo ended his nine year reign with Real Madrid this summer and joined the Italian champions to begin a new challenge in the Serie A.
Messi however acknowledged that the Portuguese goal machine gave the reason to go the extra mile and bring out the best in him.
The 33-year-old helped Madrid win four Champions League titles during his reign at the Santiago Bernabeu.
While his Argentine counterpart has been instrumental to the successes of the Catalan side since he broke into the first team in early 2000s.
However, for the first time since 2008, Messi failed to make first three of the best footballers in the world as Luka Modric went ahead to break the jinx and win the prestigious prize in 2018.
"I love football, but family is above everything," Messi told Marca.
"The rivalry with Cristiano was very healthy and very beautiful for the spectators," he said about the competition with the Portuguese.
Messi further revealed that when he saw the list of contenders for the award, he gave up on making it to the podium already.
"I heard the nominees for the Ballon d'Or and I knew I would not be in the fight," he said about finishing fifth, with Luka Modric winning the award.
Modric beat Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoinne Griezmann to clinch this year's edition of the award as Messi finished fifth on the list.
YEN.com.gh recalls that Real Madrid superstar Luka Modric beat former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoinne Griezmann to land first ever Ballon d'Or award.
The Croat won the prize on the back of his performances for both his country at the FIFA World Cup in Russia earlier this year.
And also for helping Los Blancos win their third straight Champions League title in May after beating Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev.
This will be the first time since 2008 that another player will defeat the duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or award.