Atlético Madrid boss Diego Simeone has sought to clarify his comments about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during the World Cup last month, saying he would "without a doubt" choose his countryman over the ex-Real Madrid striker.
In a leaked WhatsApp to Atlético assistant Germán Burgos after Messi's poor display in Argentina's 3-0 defeat to Croatia, Simeone appeared to praise Portugal's Ronaldo - who had just scored a hat-trick against Spain and the winner against Morocco - at the Barcelona forward's expense.
"Messi is very good, but..."
"Messi is very good, but he's very good because he's accompanied by fantastic players [at Barça]," Simeone told Burgos in the audio message. "If you had to choose between Messi and Ronaldo for an average team, who would you go for?"
"I'd always choose Messi, without a doubt"
However, speaking ahead of Atlético's International Champions Cup pre-season clash against Paris Saint-Germain in Singapore on Monday, Simeone declared: "I'd always choose Messi [over Ronaldo], without a doubt.
"When I said what I did about Messi and Ronaldo, I wasn't talking about who is the best player in the world. I was saying that in a team of average players, Ronaldo would probably be a better fit.
"But, when surrounded by top players, Messi is the best in the world."
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