The duo are often compared given their superstar status and positions with Spain’s two great rival clubs: Barcelona and Real Madrid.
But the pair have recently played down a supposed distaste for one another, with Ronaldo recently claiming they enjoy “a very good relationship” and saying he enjoys watching the Argentine in action.
Now Messi, 29, has offered his thoughts on the 32-year-old, admitting he is impressed by the Portuguese star’s drive to constantly improve and hailing him as one of the world’s best.
“That thing about our rivalry is something more invented by the press than by us,” Messi said to Tencent Sports .
“What we want is to do our best every year, to do the best for our teams and what is spoken from outside is not something I give importance to.
“He is a phenomenal player who has many qualities that year after year he improves and that is why he is one of the best in the world.”
The ex-Chile and Sevilla coach is set to make numerous changes after taking over from Edgardo Bauza, sacked after a 2-0 defeat in Bolivia in March.
One of those changes includes moving to a 3-4-3 formation, with the side having worked on a front trio of Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain.
“Messi and Dybala are very good players of their own accord and these type of games, these friendly games give us an opportunity to test that compatibility and know whether they can work together and how effective that synergy will be,” said Sampaoli.
“I believe that Messi has been playing collectively in Barcelona as part of team and that’s the type of synergy we want to create within the Argentinian team.
“So we don’t want him playing in an isolated manner, we want him to play collectively and that’s what we’re going to try and push for the team to play collectively with Messi to get the best out of him.”