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Spalletti's men are a work in progress

Inter Milan

Mourinho: Ronaldo best in the universe

Jose Mourinho thinks that if Cristiano Ronaldo does not win this year's FIFA Ballon D'Or award it will be because his fellow Portuguese does not play the media game as well as Lionel Messi.

• Blog: Ronaldo/Messi by numbers

In an interview granted to a new TV station run by Portuguese sports newspaper A Bola, the Real Madrid boss suggested that Messi had been favoured by the judges in previous years for non-footballing reasons.

"If they give it to the best, they either give it to Cristiano or Messi," Mourinho said. "And I ask, if they are equal, why does one have to win four and the other just one? No. It is normal that one has three and the other two. If Cristiano does not win the Ballon D'Or this year, it will be because he is not as sympathetic; he does not sell his image as well and does not do interviews to apologise for having argued with a team-mate on the field."

Mourinho argued that Ronaldo's achievements in the game should be valued more than the Argentine's, as the ex-Manchester United attacker did not have the benefit of coming through Barcelona's youth system and had arrived at Madrid when the club were at a very low point.

"It is more difficult to be Ronaldo than Messi," he said. "Messi grew up in the team with the team-mates he plays with. Cristiano was in England and they brought him here, to a team with a losing dynamic. He had to grow in the last two years at this team, where he is being developed."

After last weekend's Clasico, when Ronaldo and Messi had both scored twice in a 2-2 draw at the Camp Nou, Mourinho told reporters that "talk about 'the best player in the world' should be forbidden", but the 'Special One' says now that he was just being respectful.

"On Sunday, after a fantastic game, I was asked a question and I tried to find a fair and respectful answer, not just about my player, but also the opponent," he said. "But now I say: Mine was not born in Madeira, he was born on Mars, so he is not from the planet earth. So he is the best in the universe."

Both Ronaldo and Messi now have eight goals in seven La Liga games this season. The Argentine has 53 goals so far in 2012; the Portuguese 47.

The fact that Ronaldo is so prolific, while playing as a winger not a centre-forward, should be taken into account when deciding who is best, Mourinho said.

"One plays as a '9' or '9.5', and moves around a space of 50 square metres," he said. "In this zone the distance to the goal is smaller and the defensive space less intense. The other plays on the wing, he is a winger. How is it that a winger can score the same number of goals as a forward?"

Mourinho also pointed to his player's defensive qualities and willingness to work for his team-mates as a point in his favour.

"He is a winger who defends, who in the 94th minute (of last Sunday's game) is capable of making a defensive sprint after Pedro, who was free," he said. "He is a player who at dead-balls must come back 20 times (each match) because he is a fundamental player in the defensive strategy."


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