FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi has admitted that he wanted his arch-rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, to continue with Real Madrid. Messi said Ronaldo's presence in Spain gave star quality to El Classico and La Liga.

"I wanted him to continue with Real Madrid. He gave a plus to the rivalry in the Clasico and La Liga," said Messi.

"Real Madrid will continue to challenge because they have very good players, but I already said that the team was going to feel his loss for what he meant and that the squad would notice. But they have plenty of players to allow them to fight for every title and they have a lot of history," the legendary Argentine added.

Over the last decade or so, Messi and Ronaldo have set massive standards for individual performances in the team sport of soccer. They have set and broken several records as they have gone neck-to-neck in the race to dominate individual awards.

The rivalry in Spain finally ended in 2018 when Ronaldo departed to Italy to join the Serie A champions Juventus.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could square off once more in Saturday's Clásico. Getty Images

While Messi has won a few awards already for the previous season, he was open to speaking about Barcelona's fall post the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool FC at Anfield. He even defended their coach, Ernesto Valverde, who came under immense pressure following the humiliation Barca underwent when they visited Merseyside earlier this year.

"The Liverpool thing was our fault. It came after the Roma incident. We got a mental block as the Rome defeat came to mind. We got worse and worse and it wasn’t because of the coach. The club decided that he should continue and I think that for everyone it was a joy because we support him and love him, like Luis Enrique or the coaches who came before him," the decorated forward explained further.

Messi recently won the FIFA Best Male Player award for the 2018-19 season. He is one Ballon d'Or win away from edging past Ronaldo. However, the Barca skipper has said that winning the iconic trophy has never been his priority.

"It wouldn’t be a disappointment not to win it. These awards are nice recognition, but for me, they were never a priority, I would be more disappointed to spend another year without winning the Champions League - it's been five years since we’ve done it," Messi added.