For a few years now, there have been only two players who have been ruling world football, and that’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. There have been far too many debates and a lot of ink, and internet real estate spent on trying to prove that one is better than the other. Fans of both players go to war trying to argue that their player is the best.

However, neither Ronaldo or Messi ever discuss whose better in public. But then again, they aren’t friends either. Both maintain a coldness towards each other in public events, and barring a polite hello, they don’t talk much. Ronaldo was even frustrated with the constant comparisons and said that they were as different as a Ferrari and a Porsche.

But it seems that in private, it’s a completely different picture, at least when it concerns Cristiano Ronaldo. According to Guilleme Balague’s new book MESSI, of which an excerpt was published on the Telegraph, Ronaldo refers to Messi as “motherf****r” in the Madrid dressing room. Here’s a part of that excerpt:

“Ronaldo, perhaps as a symptom of the immaturity that marks so many footballers, thinks it necessary to put on a brave face in front of his team-mates, not be scared of Messi and to rise to the challenge. All very macho; all very false.

And that is why, according to some Real Madrid players, CR7 has a nickname for him: ‘motherf——r’; and if he sees someone from the club speaking to Leo, he also ends up being baptised ‘motherf——r’.

In that environment, Ronaldo usually compares their relationship with that between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. And the Madrid players, with their less than subtle dressing-room sense of humour, have a long list of jokes that include Messi as Ronaldo’s dog or puppet, or kept in a designer handbag belonging to the Portuguese player. And much worse.”

It must be noted that Cristiano Ronaldo has come out and said that this was not true and that he had the utmost respect for all his colleagues. He said, “News is circulating that I allegedly made offending remarks regarding Lionel Messi. This is absolutely false and I have assured my lawyer takes action to sue those responsible. I have the utmost respect for all my professional colleagues, and Messi is obviously no exception.”

If it is indeed true that Ronaldo has such a nickname for Messi in the privacy of the dressing room, then it definitely isn’t a nice thing. A rivalry that needs to stay on the pitch should not spill out off field too.

However, unless any of his Madrid team mates collaborate with this piece of news from Balague, it would be hard to take the writer’s word for it. Innocent until proven guilty.