Lionel Messi’s strict shirt swap rules after Cristiano Ronaldo grants Andros Townsend wish

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Without a doubt, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the best footballers of all time. Though they have the similarities of being match winners and incredibly talented individuals, they have very different attributes. Besides the obvious pace, power, skill, they also differ in their shirt-swapping policies at full-time as well.

After signing for Paris Saint-Germain, it soon came to light, again, that Messi had strict rules on who he would swap his shirt with when the final whistle is blown after he snubbed Reims player Mitchell van Bergen on his debut.

Messi’s offer decline may simply have been because he wanted to keep his first-ever PSG shirt, but it did raise several questions about which players the 34-year-old would give his sought-after strip to.

He previously told Argentine channel TyC Sports: “I don’t ask for shirts, I usually swap them, but I asked Zidane once,

“If there is an Argentine I swap it with him, but, unless someone asks me, I’m not asking anyone.”

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So, as stated, Messi clearly has rules that determine who he’s willing to give the honour of his shirt to, unlike Ronaldo.

Last weekend, after Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Everton, Andros Townsend shockingly went home with Ronaldo’s famous no.7 shirt.

The trade came as a surprise considering in the game the former Crystal Palace winger scored and then replicated Ronaldo’s iconic ‘SIU’ celebration at Old Trafford, which many think mocked the Portugal captain.

Townsend has said he did it out of ‘respect’ previously and told talkSPORT that he always had the intention of getting his hands on Ronaldo’s shirt no matter what happened.

The 30-year-old said: “I made it my goal that I was not leaving Old Trafford without Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt.”

“You saw after the final whistle, I ran straight to him. I don’t know what he was muttering, but it wasn’t English.

“He was muttering in Portuguese and I asked him three or four times for his shirt and eventually he gave in and said he would give it to me inside.

“I had to wait inside the dressing room and, thankfully, the kit man was able to sort it for me.

“That shirt I am going to keep with me.”

He then told the story behind why he decided to replicate Ronaldo’s celebration, he explained: “We were discussing it on the coach the day before on the way up to Manchester. The boys were saying, would you do it if you scored?

“I said yeah, but the one thing they said was to make sure you are winning or it is late in the game, so Ronaldo doesn’t have a chance to reply.

“I got a bit carried away, almost buckled and fell on my back, I looked up at the clock and it was 65 minutes. I gave the greatest player half an hour to make me look silly and score the winner. Thankfully he didn’t.”

Clearly, Messi is more thoughtful with the destination of his shirts than Ronaldo, who may simply roll with the ‘first come, first served’ policy unless pre-arranged. He also probably wasn’t aware of Townsend’s celebration when he sent the former England international home ecstatic and chuffed.

Although to non-football fans it may seem peculiar, getting your hands on a shirt from either player is an unbelievable feat and something that would be cherished by anyone, footballer or not.

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