BARCELONA

Messi: "I don't compare myself to Cristiano or anyone else"

The Argentinean tells Egyptian television that Frank Rijkaard was the most influential coach in his career for the faith that he placed in him.

Messi: "I don't compare myself to Cristiano or anyone else"
GUSTAVO ORTIZ DIARIO AS

FC Barcelona forward Leo Messi confesses that he's not in the habit of comparing himself to Cristiano Ronaldo "or anyone else", adding that the only thing he is conscious of is "helping the team". The player also revealed that Frank Rijkaard was "the most important" coach of his career, because of the faith he showed in him - enough to had him his first team debut.

"I think it's just something which the press have built up; they look for any kind of comparisons - in styles of what, in what we've achieved. Personally, I just try to help my team, grow as a player every year and do my job well. I don't compare myself to him,Cristiano, or anyone for that matter. I think about me and my team mates and how we can take our matches forward", Messi told Egyptian TV channel MBC.

The Barça player went on to describe their relationship as strictly sports-related. "We know each other from confronting each other on the pitch but that's it. We never se each other off the pitch to be able to get to know wach other and form a friendship. He's at another team, in any city, that's all", he continued.

As for Saturday's rivals Real Madrid, Messi says he is grateful for the battle they have with Barça every season. "Real Madrid is a great club with  a lot of history and a lot of great players; some amazing stars have played for there. It's normal that we are always battling because we are the top two clubs in the world. Madrid is a very complicated rival to face, they always make it very dificult to win the Spanish league", he said.

The most influential coach during his career is the man who handed him his debut back in 2004.  "All of the coaches I've had in the First Division have given me something, but I think the most important of my career was Rijkaard. If he hadn't taken the decision to let me join the first team's training sessions maybe I would never have made it into the side. I've always said how important he was for me because he had faith in me, he brought me in just at the right moment, and gave me my first chance with the first team", Messi explained.

"My intention is to stay at Barcelona forever and retire there but you never know what might happen in football. I've got no plans to go to another league or another club", Messi added. "[At Barça] we all know each other well, just one look and we know what the other is thinking. I think that Barcelona's first team reflects what the youth team means at the club. From an early age you are taught to manage the ball well, to keep it low, every kind of action you can do with the ball. That's why so many are coming through and reaching the first team because they're doing what they have done their whole lives".

Outside of Spain, Messi said he likes to follow the "English and Italian leagues" and described himself as a very relaxed person: "I'm natural and a simple person. I was taught to show education, respect and humility. I'm just a relaxed guy who enjoys being with his family".