Lionel Messi rates Cristiano Ronaldo's start at Manchester United

Lionel Messi says Cristiano Ronaldo has ‘adapted’ admirably since rejoining Manchester United in the summer and believes his rivalry with the forward will go down as a ‘beautiful memory’ in football history.

Ronaldo, 36, has found the net nine times for the Red Devils this season but his outstanding form in front of goal could not save Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the sack, with the club losing six of their last 13 matches in all competitions.

The veteran Portuguese has since passed on his best wishes to ‘outstanding human being’ Solskjaer and his former team-mate, Michael Carrick, has been placed in temporary charge ahead of United’s trip to Villarreal.

All seven of United’s Champions League points thus far have come thanks to late Ronaldo strikes and the attacker – the competition’s all-time top goalscorer – will no doubt be desperate to add to his tally this evening to help lead his side out of their malaise.

Messi has been impressed by the immediate impact Ronaldo has made this term, with the iconic Argentinian only scoring his first league goal on Saturday by comparison.

Asked what he has made of Ronaldo’s start, Messi told Spanish publication Marca: ‘United is a very strong team with great players. Cristiano already knew the club, but it’s in another stage and now he has adapted in an impressive way,’ Messi told Marca.

‘From the beginning he has scored goals as always and had no problems adapting. 

‘In the Premier League it is not as good as we all thought, but it is a very difficult and even competition in which things take a lot of turns. 

‘After December it changes a lot and anything can happen.’

Pressed on whether he misses his direct duels with Ronaldo, Messi replied: ‘It’s been a long time since we stopped competing in the same league. 

‘We competed individually and as a team for the same goals. 

‘It was a very beautiful stage for us and also for the people because they enjoyed it very much. 

‘It is a beautiful memory that will remain in the history of football.’

Messi has been blown away by the fierce level of competition in the Champions League this year and name-checked five teams when asked to name the top candidates for the title alongside PSG.

‘Liverpool are doing very well, they have returned to being the Liverpool that won the Champions League,’ the ex-Barcelona star said.

‘Then there are Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid… there are many teams that can fight for this Champions League.

It’s one of the most even and competitive years in recent times because there are several teams that can choose to win it.’

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