Lionel Messi names four athletes he admires the most 3 months ago

Lionel Messi names four athletes he admires the most

Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo made the cut

Lionel Messi almost never speaks to the media. Even after Barcelona matches, he often shies away from the TV cameras, leaving it up to the less experienced members of the squad to front up after what seems to be a weekly humiliation at the moment.

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But the world's greatest ever player bucked that trend by giving an exclusive interview to Spanish TV channel La Sexta, his first since the interview he gave Goal after the summer saga around his future drew to a close.

In the interview, he discussed the athletes he most admires across global sport. Having spent most of his career battling Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d'Or and Laliga titles, Messi said their rivalry is purely sporting and does not extend to off the pitch matters.

"There are many athletes who are admirable," the Argentine told La Sexta.

"Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, LeBron James. In all sports, there's an athlete that stands out and is admirable for his work and what he does on a daily basis."

"Cristiano Ronaldo is another example in football. There are many. I admire all the athletes who stand out."

On Ronaldo, Messi also said:

"I don't know if it has ever happened before in football -- the same two guys in the same stage all the time.

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"Of course, we have a good relationship -- we have not had dinner together yet, but I hope so in the future.

"We have that battle, he pushed me and I pushed him as well. It's great to be a part of the history of football. I am there, and of course, he is as well."

Messi will be out of contract at Barcelona in the summer and is technically free to speak to potential suitors in January. Though it seems as though Messi favours a move to the United States over joining another European side.

"I will not negotiate with other clubs. I will wait for the season to end and in June I will decide," he said.

"I always had the dream of being able to enjoy and have the experience of living in the United States, experience what the league there is like," he added.