Cristiano Ronaldo's exit will weaken Real Madrid, reckons arch-rival Lionel Messi

Sep 05, 2018, 10:29 IST | AFP

Barcelona's Lionel Messi admits shock over Cristiano Ronaldo's move from Real Madrid to Juventus; expects the Italian champs to be favourites for Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo's exit will weaken Real Madrid, reckons arch-rival Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi has admitted he was surprised by Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to leave Real Madrid and join Juventus. Messi also believes the transfer will leave Madrid worse off and says Juve are now among the clear favourites to win this season's Champions League.

Ronaldo swapped Spain for Italy in a deal worth 100 million euros ($117 million) in July, after securing a third consecutive European crown, and his fourth in five years with Real. But Messi, who missed out on a three-man shortlist for FIFA's world player of the year award on Monday, feels the balance may have shifted following the Ronaldo's exit.

"I was surprised, I didn't imagine him leaving Madrid or that he would go to Juve because there was talk of many clubs [interested]. The truth is I was surprised but Juve are also a very good team," Messi told Catalunya Radio. "Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and they have a great squad, but it's obvious the departure of makes them less strong while Juve have become a clear favourite for the Champions League. They already had a good team and now they also have Cristiano Ronaldo."

Madrid's dominance in Europe has made failure even harder to swallow for Barcelona, whose shock defeat by Roma in April meant crashing out in the quarter-finals for a third consecutive season. Even winning both La Liga and the Copa del Rey last term for a domestic double was not enough to extinguish the disappointment. "It's time to win the Champions League," Messi said.

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