Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are playing on until their late 30s because they 'can't stand each other' - Jamie Carragher says

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have continued to play on because of their competitive spirit which means they 'can't stand each other', former Liverpool defender, Jamie Carragher claims.

 Ronaldo netted a hat-trick for Al-Nassr against Al-Wehda this weekend, taking his goal tally for the season to 47 strikes before Messi dazzled for Inter Miami by grabbing five assists plus a goal of his own in a 6-2 win over New York Red Bulls in the USA

The two players have scored 1,500 goals over the last two decades - with Messi claiming eight Ballon d'Ors and Ronaldo earning five

Ronaldo, 39, and Messi, 36, have endured a rivalry as they battled for the acclaimed individual prize across many years. Carragher believes their longevity is down to their hatred for each other as they constantly try to 'outshine' each other.

Speaking to Football365, he said: 'They definitely made each other better. But I think they probably can’t appreciate that until they’ve finished. While they’re playing, I bet they can’t stand each other.

'No matter what one did, the other would come back at them. They could never rest. They could never enjoy what they’d done as much because they knew the other one would be coming back at them to go and get more goals.

'I always felt that if one of them scored a hat-trick, the next night the other one would go and get a hat-trick. They had to always completely outshine each other.'

Carragher added that it was remarkable to see two players win the Ballon d'Or so many times and doesn't believe football will have two top players like Messi and Ronaldo play for so long at the top again.

'Normally, if someone would win the Ballon d’Or two or three times, they were an absolute god,' he added. 'These two were both winning it five, six, seven times. And you’d think, ‘If Ronaldo wasn’t here, Messi probably would have won the Ballon d’Or 12 times.’

I’ve never seen anyone have the longevity at the top of those two. Maybe someone could get to their level for two or three years, but to go for as long as those players have, I’m not sure we’ll ever see that again.

The Sky Sports pundit added that the rivalry between the pair would have been tougher for Ronaldo to cope with because 'seven or eight people out of ten would say Messi was the better player'.

He added that narrative 'must have driven Ronaldo on' to become better and better to score more goals and win more trophies.