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Are Cristiano Ronaldo's ex-teammates turning on him in the GOAT debate with Lionel Messi?

Euro 2024 might be Cristiano Ronaldo's last chance to win a major international trophy — and possibly the final opportunity to prevent himself from going down in history as the B-side to Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo or Messi; who is better? — has been a question that's become soccer's version of LeBron James or Michael Jordan for more than a decade, but the hypothetical battle has tilted significantly against the Portugal superstar over the past 18 months.

Messi's victory with Argentina in the 2022 World Cup, in the minds of many, struck the decisive blow in the argument, perhaps cementing the Argentina legend in the position of top dog for this generation.

The interesting thing about this clash of extraordinary talents is that it's not just one for the fans. Ronaldo cares about it, so does Messi, although the latter does a better job of hiding the fact.

And it is a conversation that has become entwined with their former teammates for a variety of reasons.

For years, there was an unwritten rule that if a player had played club soccer with Ronaldo, they would state his name whenever quizzed about who was the modern-day GOAT. 

If they'd played with Messi, you get the idea, they'd plump for him.

Germany legend Toni Kroos admitted as much in 2018, telling reporters: "We were not only teammates but also neighbors in the dressing room and neighbors in real life. Cristiano lived right by me.

"Seeing what a perfectionist he is was impressive. That is why it is forbidden for me to name Messi."

But then things began to shift. Ronaldo's reputation took a hit in 2022 when his second spell with Manchester United disintegrated into acrimony and poor performance, and ultimately ended with him announcing a move to Al-Nassr of the Saudi Pro

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