Cristiano Ronaldo has urged his long-time rival Lionel Messi to “accept the challenge” of leaving Barcelona and joining the Juventus star in Serie A.
Ronaldo believes his desire to move around the big leagues – with spells in the Premier League and LaLiga – sets him apart from the Argentinian, who has spent his whole senior career with Barcelona.
In an interview published by Gazzetta dello Sport, Ronaldo said: “I played in England, Spain, Italy.. while he is still in Spain.
“For me, life is a challenge. I like it and I like to make people happy. I would like him to come to Italy one day and, like me, accept the challenge.”
Ronaldo’s relationship with Messi has sometimes appeared strange as the pair turned the annual Ballon d’Or into a personal head-to-head, sharing out every title since 2008 until the pair were pipped by Luka Modric last week.
But the 33-year-old Ronaldo insisted he has every respect for Messi, who is showing every sign of finishing his career with Barcelona, whom he joined as a junior from Argentina in 2001.
Ronaldo added: “If he is happy there, I respect him. He is a fantastic player and a good guy, but I do not miss anything here. This is my new life and I am happy.”
Inspired by Ronaldo, Juventus currently sit eight points clear in Serie A and have coasted through the Champions League group stages with an identical record to his former club Real, whom there is every chance of him meeting in the tournament’s final stages in February.
But Ronaldo, who said the team spirit is better among his current team-mates than he experienced at the Bernabeu, said he is ambivalent about such a possibility.
“The past has passed and now I want to win for Juventus,” said Ronaldo.
“I have to defend these colours and nothing else counts – if I played against Real Madrid, I would give my best.
“I can say this is the best group I’ve ever played with. In other teams some players feel bigger than others, but here they are all on the same level, they are humble and want to win.
“For me it is beautiful and I can feel the difference. Even in Madrid they are humble but here, even more so. It is very different to Madrid – it is more like a family here.”