Barcelona head coach Xavi says that Lionel Messi improved as a result of his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, as they were always aware of each other’s moves on the field.
There was never a way to avoid comparisons between their efforts, despite the fact that neither player would admit to keeping track of the other’s exploits while focusing on maximising their performance for their respective clubs.
Messi and Ronaldo, who have won a combined 12 Ballon d’Or, have made history on a regular basis.
And Xavi believes their long-running war for global supremacy has helped elevate their status as all-time greats in football.
Xavi, who spent many successful years playing with Messi at Camp Nou, spoke to the BBC documentary ‘Messi: The Enigma’ about his insight into one of the greatest rivalries in the game: “Cristiano gave him an extra push to become a better player.
“Cristiano and Leo probably won’t admit it. I am convinced they used to keep an eye on each other. If you’re competitive, you want to be the best.”
The Messi vs. Ronaldo debate will likely continue for some time, as neither of them shows any sign of hanging up their boots any time soon, and the duo will hope that they have more major titles left in them.
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The Enigma will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer starting from October 22, with some of Messi’s former teammates and coaches discussing what makes the player unique.
It carries some contributions from Rio Ferdinand, Henrik Larsson and Fabregas, who either played with or against the 35-year-old.
Xavi, now the Barcelona manager, added: “Messi is a 10. This guy is a 9.2. This one is an 8.5. But a 10, this kid has set the bar. There’s nothing above that, that’s the highest.”