Cristiano Ronaldo admits his rivalry with Argentina forward Lionel Messi has ‘gone’ after the former Manchester United superstar was snubbed for Ballon d’Or recognition for the first time since 2003.

Regarded as two of the best players in history, Ronaldo and Messi have 12 Ballon d’Or awards between them throughout their record-breaking careers - in addition to further individual and countless team honours across several top-five European divisions.

They are now embarking on fresh adventures in Saudi Arabia and the United States respectively, with silverware following them in the Arab Club Champions Cup and MLS Leagues Cup already. Messi, 36, could yet get his hands on an eighth Ballon d’Or this year after guiding Argentina to a famous World Cup triumph in Qatar.

Messi also won another Ligue 1 crown with PSG this year before signing for MLS franchise Inter Miami this summer. The ex-Barcelona captain is odds-on favourite to be honoured at the 2023 ceremony.

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Manchester City striker Erling Haaland will also come into contention after spearheading a famous treble-win for his team, while Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah and PSG sensation Kylian Mbappe both find themselves on a 30-strong nomination list that excluded former United player Ronaldo for the first time in two decades. As that news broke during the international break, the 38-year-old Portugal captain was pressed on his rivalry and relationship with Messi now they are plying their trade on different continents.

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Ronaldo said: “I don’t see things like that, the rivalry is gone. It was good, spectators liked it. Those who like Cristiano Ronaldo don’t have to hate Messi and vice versa. We’ve done well, we have changed the history of football. We are respected all over the world, that’s the most important thing.

“He’s followed his path and I have followed mine, regardless of playing outside of Europe. From what I’ve seen, he’s been doing well and so have I. The legacy lives on, but I don’t see the rivalry like that.

“We shared the stage many times, it was 15 years. I’m not saying we’re friends - I’ve never had dinner with him - but we’re professional colleagues and respect each other.”

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