Lionel Messi holds Cristiano Ronaldo in high regard and has spoken out about his move to Juventus.
Lionel Messi has admitted that he did not expect to see Cristiano Ronaldo leave Real Madrid this summer, claiming that the move 'obviously' weakens the Champions League holders.
Ronaldo left the Spanish capital to move to Juventus for €100m this summer, ending a nine-year stay in Madrid which netted him four Champions League titles, four Ballons d'Or, 450 goals and hundreds of millions of pounds in wages and endorsements.
Juventus, meanwhile, haven't won the Champions League for over 20 years - but Messi told Catalunya Radio that Ronaldo's arrival puts them among the favourites for the title this season.
Himself a four-time winner of the competition, Messi said: "Real Madrid are one of the best teams in the world and they have a great squad [but] it's evident that the absence of Ronaldo makes them less good and makes Juventus [one of the] clear favorites to win the Champions League.
"It surprised me. I didn't imagine him leaving Madrid or joining Juventus. There were a lot of teams that wanted him. It surprised me, but he has gone to a very good team."
Barcelona have disappointed at Europe's top table since last winning the title in 2015, being knocked out by Roma, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid at the quarterfinal stage in each of the last three seasons, but Messi backed himself and his teammates to go all the way this season.
"It's time," he said. "We have been knocked out in the quarter-finals in the last three seasons. Last season's result in Rome hurt especially, but we have a spectacular squad and we can fight for it."