You couldn’t refer to them as friends, but Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi admits he was shocked by Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus.
Messi faced off against Ronaldo countless times in La Liga, both with their respective clubs and for personal accolades, though they will no longer go head to head in the Clasico.
In a shock decision in the summer, the Portuguese ace moved to the Italian giants, and Messi feels the Old Lady will be a significant threat in Europe with his old rival Ronaldo leading the line – while Real have got significantly weaker in the process.
“Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and they have a great squad [but] it’s evident that the absence of Ronaldo makes them less good,” Messi told Catalunya Radio.
“And it makes Juventus [one of the] clear favourites to win the Champions League.”
On how he reacted to the new of Ronaldo’s unexpected transfer, Messi, 31, continued: “It surprised me [when he left].
“I didn’t imagine him leaving Madrid or joining Juventus. There were a lot of teams that wanted him. It surprised me, but he has gone to a very good team.”
Five-time World Player of the Year Messi has gone three seasons without winning the Champions League, last doing so in 2015, and admits it is his major goal this season: “It’s time [to win it again].
“We have been knocked out in the quarterfinals in the last three seasons. Last season’s result in Rome hurt especially, but we have a spectacular squad and we can fight for it [this season].”
Messi has scored four goals as Barca maintain a perfect start to the defence of their Spanish title, while Ronaldo is yet to open his account for the Old Lady who lead the way in Serie A.