I'd pay to watch Ronaldo, says Messi

LONDON: Barcelona star Lionel Messi will have the chance to watch Cristiano Ronaldo at close quarters on Wednesday after admitting the Manchester United winger is the one player he would pay to see in action.

Along with Ronaldo, Argentina forward Messi is widely regarded as one of the top two or three players in the world, and the duo will be the centre of attention in Wednesday's Champions League final in Rome.

But it is the Portuguese playmaker's flamboyant skills that most excite Messi when he sits down to watch a match on television.

"Manchester United have quality everywhere," Messi told the Daily Mail. "So many good players. But if I had to pick one out it would be Ronaldo. He is a player I would pay to watch.

"He and I are very different players but he is unbelievable, very special, and it will not be easy to stop him.

"But we must not pay all attention to him and forget about Berbatov, Rooney and Carlos Tevez.

"Manchester United have players all over the pitch who can punish you in the same way we have."

Messi also reaffirmed his loyalty to Barcelona and insisted he wants to remain with the club for the rest of his career.

The 21-year-old has been linked with a move to arch-rivals Real Madrid, but he has no intention of leaving Camp Nou.

"I have said so many times that I am so happy at Barcelona, and I have no desire to ever leave," he said.

"I owe them so much. I want to repay them for the rest of my career. I am loyal to Barcelona.

"The doctors at home in Argentina told my parents I would never grow past 4ft 5in.

"The medical bills were very high. My father took on other jobs but even then it was not enough for the other bills.

"Nobody else was prepared to take a chance on me apart from Barcelona and if it was not for them I would not even be a professional football player."