Messi: Cristiano Ronaldo is great but beating him doesn’t motivate me

Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi to the Ballon d’Or and FIFA award in 2016 and the Barcelona man has praised his rival’s achievements.

Lionel Messi has hailed long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo as “a great player who has achieved great things” following a highly successful 2016.

Ronaldo pipped the Barcelona forward to the Ballon d’Or and the inaugural The Best FIFA Men’s Player award after winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup with Real Madrid, as well as Euro 2016 with Portugal.

The 31-year-old has stressed in the past that there is a healthy level of respect between football’s leading lights despite the intensity of the rivalry between LaLiga’s biggest two clubs.

And Messi says Ronaldo deserves plenty of praise for what he has achieved during his career, although he denies that trying to surpass the former Manchester United man’s achievements is one of his chief motivations.

“There is a mutual respect,” he told Coach Magazine. “I view him as a great player who has achieved great things because that is exactly what he is.

“My motivation, though, has always come from wanting to do well for Barcelona and Argentina, and the fans.”

Indeed, Messi says he can never allow himself to review the remarkable success he has enjoyed in his career as he is always determined to win even more.

When asked what motivates him, he replied: “To win trophies for my club and country. That is why I never look back at my success. I can do that when I am retired, for now it is about looking forward to more success.”

Messi announced his retirement from international football following Argentina’s Copa America Centenario final defeat to Chile, only to reverse that decision in August.

The 29-year-old is now determined to claim silverware on the international stage after making what he believes was the right call.

“After the disappointment of losing the final I had time to think and to speak with people, and I felt it was the right option to reverse my decision,” he added. “I still have big ambitions to win a trophy with Argentina.”

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