The legendary Brazilian claims that he faced greater competition for the title of “world’s best” in an era of Zinedine Zidane, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the global game amid a lack of competition, claims ex-Real Madrid and Barcelona star Ronaldo.
Between them, two iconic figures of the modern era have collected 10 Ballon d’Or awards.
A decade of fierce rivalry has seen top honours shared between the Portuguese and Argentine talents, with no other player having been able to break their duopoly.
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Brazilian legend Ronaldo is a big fan of both superstars and all that they have achieved, but the three-time World Player of the Year says it was tougher for him to gain global recognition during his playing career than it is now nowadays.
“In my generation, the competition was much bigger than it is now, without wanting to belittle Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo,” a man with two World Cup wins to his name told Sport Bild.
“They will fight for the title of the best player in the world in the coming years, but in my time we had [Zinedine] Zidane, Rivaldo, [Luis] Figo, me, and then Ronaldinho.
“That was a generation in which being the best was much more difficult.”
Among those being tipped to break Ronaldo and Messi’s stranglehold on the biggest individual prizes is Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.
The 25-year-old took the decision to leave Barcelona over the summer in a record-breaking €222 million as he aims to step out of the shadow of others and shine in his own right.
Ronaldo knows all about making such choices, having left Camp Nou for Inter back in 1997, and a man who recently questioned Barca’s handling of Brazilian talent wonders whether a fellow countryman was edged towards the exit.
He added: “I do not know what went behind his transfer, maybe there was a problem with the presidency of Barcelona, like what happened with me.
“Neymar’s departure from Barcelona has many parallels with what happened in 1997.
“I went to Inter when the Italian league was much stronger than the French league today.”
Neymar has netted 17 times for PSG since making a move to France, with that haul putting him one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo for 2017-18 and only two efforts behind Messi.