Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo – The Not So Quiet Summer

Messi, Ronaldo

The 2013 summer should have been a chance for players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to relax. Not just their bodies rest from a season of football without any international competitions to attend, but with Real Madrid being in a very confusing state at the moment, while the Barcelona star has had his problems with the IRS in Spain, it hasn’t been too tranquil for the two.

Messi had his few weeks of silence last year, while Ronaldo was off trying to win Euro 2012. This time? There’s no Copa America, and there’s no Confederations Cup for him to participate in. But while Messi has been touring the world and especially Asia, his tax issues in Spain became public knowledge, ruining what should have been a time that was about focusing and fantasizing on what he and Neymar can do (on the pitch) together.

Ronaldo? No tournament, no special tour, no tax problems. But after four seasons at Real Madrid, with a modest tally of one league title, one Copa Del Rey and four Champions League failures, the questions about his future there just won’t leave him and the club alone.

Lionel Messi blowing his nose

It probably comes down to two things – him and Jose Mourinho. The first two seasons under Mourinho seemed like paradise. The right manager, with the right personality, not only to challenge Barcelona, but to bring the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo. Not just putting him on the left wing again, but being the wind beneath his wings, promoting him in the FIFA awards (which didn’t help) and taking the bullets for him and other players.

But as Ronaldo grew disgruntled (unhappy… if you choose to believe him) with the contract situation at Madrid, the Jose Mourinho situation became an impossible one for Real Madrid, that troe the club apart from within, resulting in finishing way behind Barcelona in the league, bowing out of the Champions League in the semifinal once again and losing in the Copa Del Rey final, ending the season empty handed.

Carlo Ancelotti is now on board, and while no one considers him to be a tactical genius, he does have three league titles in three different European leagues, not to mention two Champions League trophies with AC Milan (2003, 2007). If there’s one thing that usually works with Ancelotti, it’s the relationship he has with his players. Ronaldo should be happy, should be content, and should be settled.

Cristiano Ronaldo in the car

But the outside world keeps calling. He hasn’t signed a new contract, and at the moment, has two more years to give at the Santiago Bernabeu. We’re hearing Manchester United trying to entice Ronaldo to forego re-signing with his current club, and wait two more years so the Red Devils can offer him a magical deal, not willing to pay the £80 million (at least) it might cost them to sign him now, if he’s even for sale.

Maybe Ronaldo still wants to show he can with a Champions League title with Real Madrid. Leaving without ever ending their 11-year (and counting) drought might hamper his status with the team’s fans and historians when it comes to placing him in the history books of the club. Ronaldo is many things, and one of them is a person who cares what people think of him.

Lionel Messi is never involved in any transfer rumors, but he would like his name to be mentioned less with tax evasion ordeals and more in line with the usual stuff – best player in the world debate, how does he fit with Neymar, and are Barcelona good enough to reclaim the Champions League trophy. Maybe the arrival of the Brazilian after the Confederations Cup ends will mean a lot less pressure on his shoulders.

Another season begins, and unless something quite unpredictable happens, it’s going to be another 9-10 months of comparisons between Messi and Ronaldo – who is more important to his team, and who makes their team better, not to mention who beats each other. Both of them, and their clubs, are hoping the only media discussions and noise about them will have to do with their on-pitch ability.