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Ronaldo to Messi: Come join me in Italy

Juventus forward urges long-time rival to 'leave his comfort zone'

Cristiano Ronaldo has urged long-time rival Lionel Messi to be like him and push the limits by challenging himself in another league.

"I'd like him to come to Italy one day. I hope he accepts the challenge like me, but if he's happy there then I respect that," Ronaldo told the Italian press on Monday.

                  GROUP H

The two strikers have been rivals for the past decade, winning five Ballon d'Or trophies each before their domination was broken last week by Real Madrid's Luka Modric, who led Croatia to the World Cup final.

Asked if he missed the 31-year-old Argentinian, who has spent his entire senior career at Barcelona, Ronaldo replied: "No, maybe it's him who misses me ...

"I've played in England, Spain, Italy, Portugal... while he's still in Spain. Maybe he needs me more... For me, life is a challenge, I like it and I like to make people happy.

"He's a fantastic player and a good guy, but I don't miss anything here. This is my new life and I'm happy.

"I left my comfort zone and took on this challenge here in Turin, everything has gone well, I've proven I'm still an incredible player," said Ronaldo.

Ronaldo joined Juventus for 100 million euros (S$156.3m) last summer as the Turin giants bid to lift the Champions League trophy after two runners-up finishes in the past four seasons.

To mark his 150 days in Italy, he gave interviews on Monday to three leading sports dailies: La Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere dello Sport and Tuttosport.

"I had different options. I won't say which but I had them. Juventus are a solid club. They have a long history," he said of his decision.

"I knew the atmosphere in the stadium. I'd played several times in Italy. I like the city, the people and the club. I knew it could work.

"I couldn't be 100 per cent sure I was joining the best club in the world. After nine years at Real Madrid, it was difficult to compare. Now I'm 100 per cent sure it was the right option."

Ronaldo, 33, has scored 11 goals this season, bringing his career total to 584.

Finishing second in Ballon d'Or voting to Modric, said Ronaldo, just motivates him even more.

He said: "On the pitch, I've done everything to win the Ballon d'Or, numbers do not lie, but I'm no less happy if I do not win, I have wonderful friends and a family, I play in one of the best clubs.

"Congratulations to Modric, who has earned the award, but next year... I will do everything to win the prize again. Do you think I'm going home to cry?"

Juventus play Young Boys in their final Champions League group game in Switzerland tomorrow morning (Singapore time), having already booked their place in the Round of 16.

And five-time Champions League winner Ronaldo is hoping his experience will come in handy.

He said: "We have to get there step by step. Look at the game against Manchester United (2-1 defeat), if it had been a quarter-final, we would have gone out. You need a little luck." - AFP