Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have dominated football for over two decades AFP/Josep LAGO

Former FC Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic has made a bold statement, claiming he preferred playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo over Lionel Messi.

Pjanic spent the bulk of his career in Italy, representing Roma and Juventus and his best run was with The Old Lady, where he played 77 matches alongside Ronaldo across two seasons between 2018 and 2020.

Ronaldo and Pjanic tasted a lot of success together at Juventus, lifting three trophies, including two Serie A titles. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international finished his Juventus career with 22 goals in 178 appearances in all competitions.

In the summer of 2020, Pjanic moved from Juventus to Barcelona in a £52 million deal. Even though the midfielder got to play alongside Messi, Pjanic's stint with the Blaugrana outfit was rather unsuccessful and not memorable. He played 30 times for Barcelona across competitions during the 2020-21 season, with just 13 starts, registering zero goal contributions. Although he had signed a four-year deal with Barcelona, Pjanic left the Catalan club at the end of his maiden season.

"I talk a lot with Cristiano Ronaldo. I have many memories with him, he is a great footballer. He's the best I've ever played with. He is among the two, three strongest players in history," Pjanic said in a recent interview.

"I was lucky enough to play with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and it's hard to say who is stronger. However, I had more fun with Ronaldo than Messi," the midfielder added.

Pjanic, who won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona, next joined Turkish club Beşiktaş on loan for the 2021-22 campaign. Following this, the former Lyon midfielder joined UAE Pro League club Sharjah FC in 2022 where he still plays to this day.

Messi and Ronaldo have built an iconic rivalry over the years, which first began when the two played in La Liga at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. The two have fiercely contested the GOAT debate for over a decade, dominating football and winning a grand total of 12 Ballons d'Or between them.

Ronaldo, on international duty with Portugal last month, claimed that his rivalry with Messi was over.

"The rivalry is over. It was good, a healthy rivalry that spectators liked a lot. Whoever likes Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't have to hate Messi or vice-versa because they're both very good. They changed the history of football, and they keep on doing it.

"The rivalry, I don't see things like that. I've already said, we've shared the stage for 15 years and we ended up being, I wouldn't say friends, because I never dined with him, but we are professional colleagues and we respect each other," added Ronaldo.

Both Messi and Ronaldo exited European football earlier this year. The Argentinian forward joined Major League Soccer (MLS) side Inter Miami, while Ronaldo moved to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr.