Lionel Messi gives verdict on Cristiano Ronaldo's United performances

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the two best players in world football for over a decade now.

They both changed clubs during the summer; Messi moved to Paris Saint-Germain before Ronaldo made his sensational return to Manchester United.

Ronaldo probably did not imagine Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have been sacked little over two months after his arrival.

And his great rival Messi was asked by Spanish outlet Marca for his verdict on how Ronaldo is getting on so far.

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“United is a very strong team with great players. Cristiano already knew the club, but that was in another era and now he has adapted in an impressive way,” he said.

“From the beginning he has scored goals as always and had no problems adapting. In the Premier League it is not going as well as we all expected, but it is a very difficult competition in which things take a lot of turns. 

“After December it changes a lot and anything can happen. It’s been a long time since we stopped competing in the same league. We competed individually and as a team for the same goals. 

“It was a very beautiful stage for us and also for the people because they enjoyed it very much. It is a beautiful memory that will remain in the history of football.”

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Ronaldo has nine goals in 13 games since his return to United and has almost single-handedly kept the club’s Champions League campaign alive.

He has been one of the club’s best players this season and his contributions in Europe have been immense.

United may need another big night from their number seven against Villarreal, which is a huge game coming just days after Solskjaer’s sacking.

Meanwhile, Messi – who has already made his admiration for Ronaldo clear on a number of occasions – will be in Manchester as PSG prepare to face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

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Messi did not name United as contenders for the Champions League elsewhere in his interview. When asked who can win the famous trophy, Messi said:

“Today, Liverpool is very well, it has returned to being the Liverpool that won the Champions League. 

“Then there are Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.

“There are many teams that can fight for this Champions League, which is one of the most even and competitive in recent years because there are several teams that can win it.”

United need to ensure they are in the knockout round of a competition they have only reached the quarter finals of twice since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure.

It was actually Messi who helped knock United out last time they made it that far, in 2019 during the early part of Solskjaer’s reign.

The majestic Argentine scored twice in the first half at the Nou Camp as Barcelona won 4-0 on aggregate.

His current manager is of course Mauricio Pochettino, who has emerged as the leading contender to replace Solskjaer.

United’s initial declaration that they were looking for an interim manager before hiring a longer term boss in the summer indicated that they did not expect Pochettino – or Erik Ten Hag – to be available until then.

That does not look to be the case, with Pochettino seemingly frustrated with the egos in PSG’s imbalanced squad, and he could walk away from the prospect of managing Messi, in order to work with Ronaldo.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.