Did CR7 leave to escape Messi's shadow?

English Premier League

Ronaldo, 33, made the surprise decision to depart the European champions after nine years of glittering success in order to join Serie A giants Juve in a record €100 million transfer.

While there have been several reported facets as to how the split ended up materialising, from issues with club president Florentino Perez, wage demands and his own description of a new challenge, Ronaldo may have foreseen the decline of his former employers before jumping ship.

One can argue that Los Blancos’ current LaLiga form would have been different with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner in their ranks but FC Barcelona’s dominance in LaLiga in recent years has been evident.

Having missed out on the Golden Shoe to Messi by 12 and eight goals over the past two seasons, respectively, the decision to leave has put the ageing superstar back in the reckoning as he leads the scoring charts in the Italian top flight.

Currently on 14 goals in 20 Serie A games, the Portugal captain trails Messi by just four league goals, with the Argentine having netted 18 LaLiga strikes in as many games.

Despite the incredible levels of performances of the two living legends of the game, the recent emergence of Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah in Ligue 1 and the Premier League, respectively, could even see the direct rivalry become redundant.

Mbappe, with league 17 goals, and Salah, with 16, are firmly in the running for their first Golden Shoe titles.

But can they maintain the consistency of the five-time Golden Ball winners to compete over the course of the 2017/18 season?

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