Messi and Ronaldo must stay in Spain to keep rivalry alive – Kluivert

The former Barcelona star thinks one of La Liga’s leading lights leaving their current clubs would lessen the competitive edge which drives them on

Former Barcelona forward Patrick Kluivert believes it is important Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain in Spain to keep their rivalry alive.

The pair have played alongside side each other in La Liga for Barca and Real Madrid since Ronaldo joined the latter in 2009, with Messi having been wowing Camp Nou since making his first-team debut five years earlier.

The duo have dominated the Ballon d’Or for seven consecutive years, with Messi having won four awards and his Blancos adversary the other three, and their exceptional performance standards continue to frame the debate over who should be considered the world’s best player.

Kluivert, who spent six years at Barca from 1998, thinks only Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben is anywhere near Ronaldo and Messi in terms of quality at present but suspects their rivalry would take a hit if either jumped ship this summer.

“Both players are amazing,” the current coach of small Caribbean nation Curacao told “The most important thing is that they both play in Spain. If one was in Spain and one in England, the rivalry would be different.

“But, let’s be honest, both are the best in the world, and then comes Robben and others. Messi is a unique player, his left foot is like gold. Everything he touches is like gold.

“As he walks on the pitch, he knows that, if Barcelona get the ball, he will get the ball. He walks to the free space, every time they get the ball they look to Messi first. He is one of a kind, I like him very much.”

Kluivert also weighed in on how Luis Enrique has fared since taking over from Gerardo Martino last summer.

The coach struggled to garner total support in the first half of the season but, following reports he was on the brink of being axed, Barca have been brilliant in recent weeks and he has received plenty of plaudits for overhauling Real Madrid in La Liga.

“Luis Enrique was a great player at many big clubs,” he added. “As a coach you always get criticism, but that is the way it is. He knows the power of the media, and you have to take the criticism sometimes.

“But now he is smiling, first of all because they have one more point than Real Madrid, and they also look in good shape in the Champions League. He has the Copa del Rey final and can also win the Champions League, so he has nothing to complain about.”