Cristiano Ronaldo just challenged Lionel Messi to leave FC Barcelona and join him in Italy

Philipp Schmidli / Getty ImagesLionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo has challenged Lionel Messi to leave FC Barcelona and join him in the Serie A so they can renew their iconic rivalry.

“I would like him to come to Italy,” Ronaldo told the Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in a revealing interview published on Monday.

Ronaldo and Messi are regarded as the best soccer players of the past decade. Previously, it had been easy to compare soccer’s two great players as they both competed in La Liga. But Ronaldo left the Spanish division when he transferred to Juventus FC in a $US131.5 million deal from former club Real Madrid CF in July.

Ronaldo is still creating headlines in Italy, though not as frequently as Messi, who is seemingly operating at a level that is far higher than anybody else in soccer right now.

Read more: 2 gorgeous goals, 1 telepathic assist, and another La Liga record: Lionel Messi toyed with Espanyol in thumping 4-0 win

Regardless, Ronaldo has admitted that he misses his old rival and even encouraged Messi to follow in his footsteps and leave La Liga. “Maybe I miss him a little,” he said.

“I have played in England, Spain, Italy, Portugal, with the national team, while he has stayed in Spain. Maybe, he needs me more. For me, life is a challenge, I like it and I like to make it happy. I would like him to come to Italy one day. Do what I did, accept the challenge. However, if he is happy there, I respect that.”

Ronaldo added: “He is a great player, a great guy, but here I don’t miss anything. This is my new life and I am happy.”

Read more: 2 moments of Messi magic guaranteed Barcelona victory, and proved he’s finally dominating Ronaldo as the main man in Europe

Ronaldo endured a mini goal drought when he first played for his new club Juventus but he eventually found his scoring boots and has scored or created one goal for every 89 minutes he has played in the Serie A.

Messi, though, is far more effective at Barça as his 11 goals and 8 assists mean he has scored or created one goal for every 55 minutes he has played in La Liga.

That strike rate alone shows why it is tough to see Messi, Barcelona’s favourite son, ever leaving the club he has made his home.

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