New Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is already standing up for his players.
In an interview with Récord, Zidane said Cristiano Ronaldo—not Barcelona star Lionel Messi—is the best player in the world.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is the best,” Zidane said. “People can say what they like about Cristiano Ronaldo, but in his heart he's a good person. Messi is the rival and that rivalry is great for the footballing spectacle, it's what the fans want to see.”
Zidane, the 1998 Ballon d'Or winner and former Real Madrid star midfielder, was named manager of Real Madrid last month, replacing Rafa Benitez. Messi won the Ballon d'Or as FIFA World Player of the Year last month, the fifth time in his career he took home the prize. Ronaldo had won the previous two years and has won it three times in total.
Ronaldo and Messi have finished first or second for the award every year since 2011.