Ronaldo denies Messi slur: do they really hate each other?

Ronaldo threatens legal action over claims he has an obscene nickname for his rival from Barcelona

Cristiano Ronaldo 270213
Barcelona humbled as Cristiano Ronaldo scores twice for Real Madrid
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has denied that he refers to his great rival Lionel Messi of Barcelona as "motherf*****" and has threatened to take legal action over the allegation.

The claim comes from Spanish journalist Guillam Balague in his book, Messi, serialised in the Daily Telegraph this week. In a passage dealing with comparisons between the two greatest footballers in the world, Balague confirms that they are "not friends" and describes their relationship as "respectful but distant".

But having said that he appears to contradict himself by declaring that the Portuguese has a very disrespectful nickname for his rival.

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"Ronaldo, perhaps as a symptom of the immaturity that marks so many footballers, thinks it necessary to put on a brave face in front of his team-mates, not be scared of Messi and to rise to the challenge. All very macho; all very false," he claims. "And that is why, according to some Real Madrid players, CR7 has a nickname for him: 'motherf*****'; and if he sees someone from the club speaking to Leo, he also ends up being baptised 'motherf*****'."

Responding on his Facebook page, Ronaldo described rumours about the "offending remarks" as "absolutely false" and added that he had told his lawyer to take action.

"I have the utmost respect for all my professional colleagues, and Messi is obviously no exception," he added.

The pair's rivalry dates back many years. Between them they have won every world player of the year award since 2008 and are currently locked in a battle to set a new Champions League scoring record. Messi has equalled the previous mark of 71 goals, set by Raul, while Ronaldo has 70 to his name.

The pair are also due to come face to face at Ronaldo's old stamping ground, Old Trafford, next week when Portugal face Argentina in a friendly. How they greet each other will be telling.

"At every turn, in everything they represent, there is a seeming source for conflict: Real Madrid against Barcelona, Nike against Adidas, narcissism against humility," writes Jim White of the Telegraph. "We like to assume that the two superstars of the game really cannot abide one another... [yet] there is little to suggest there is any genuine animus between them."

Even if the claims about Ronaldo are true, the moniker is likely to have "come about largely as a macho disregard of all things Barcelona in the Madrid dressing room", says White. "The disappointing truth is this does not appear to be a rivalry seeded in loathing."

Instead, he argues they simply want to be seen as better than the other, something that can only be achieved on the pitch.

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