Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has suggested that Lionel Messi “maybe needs more” after so long at Barcelona and has invited his eternal rival to join him in Serie A.
Two talismanic performers who have cemented standings among the all-time greats spent nine years battling for supremacy in Spain prior to a stunning summer transfer window.
Ronaldo’s decision to leave Real Madrid for Turin in a €100 million (£90m/$114m) deal has left Messi as the standalone five-time Ballon d’Or winner in La Liga.
He has offered little indication that he will be treading a similar path to a man he has battled with for so long, with the Argentine being tipped to see out his career as a one-club man.
Ronaldo, though, would relish the opportunity to lock horns with Messi again in Italy if the opportunity presented itself.
He told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked if he misses Messi: “No, maybe he misses me!
“I played in England, Spain, Italy, Portugal, in the national team, while he is still in Spain. Maybe he needs me more.
“For me, life is a challenge, I like it and I like to make people happy.
“I would like him to come to Italy one day. Like me, accept the challenge.
“However, if he is happy there, I respect him.
“He is a fantastic player, a good guy but I do not miss anything here. This is my new life and I’m happy.”
Having severed domestic ties during the last transfer window, Ronaldo and Messi have been knocked from their perch at the top of the global game.
Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has enjoyed a clean sweep of the most prestigious prizes this year, claiming the FIFA Best Award, World Cup Golden Ball and 2018 Ballon d’Or.
A duopoly enjoyed by two iconic performers is said to be over, after a decade of dominance, but neither Ronaldo nor Messi are showing any sign of slowing down despite now being into their 30s.
The former has plundered 11 goals for Juventus so far this season, while the latter continues to send records tumbling in Spain and has taken his tally across all competitions in 2018-19 to 17 in as many games.