Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has finally cleared the air on his leaked audio messages about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Following Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Spain in Portugal’s opening game of the World Cup in Russia, and Messi’s missed penalty against Iceland in Argentina’s first match at the tournament, an audio message from Simeone found its way to the press.
At the time, it was reported that he said: “Messi is very good, but he’s very good because he’s accompanied by fantastic players (at Barca). If you had to choose between Messi and Ronaldo for an average team, who would you go for?”
The Atleti boss has now discussed that message, stating that it was taken out of context, and reaffirmed that he still believes Messi is the best player in world football.
“I’d always choose Messi (over Ronaldo), without a doubt,” he said at a recent press conference, according to the Daily Star.
“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.”
Both Ronaldo and Messi, along with their respective nations, went on to get knocked out in the round of 16 at the World Cup.