Cristiano Ronaldo aimed a thinly veiled dig at Lionel Messi after the Argentina star won FIFA’s The Best Award.
Messi won the men’s player of the year prize at the FIFA Best Awards, edging out Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe.
The 36-year-old, who picked up the award for the third time since it began in 2016, scored nine goals for PSG as they won the French Ligue 1 title before netting 10 goals in seven games as Inter Miami won the inaugural Leagues Cup in the United States.
His nearest competitor Haaland grabbed a record 36 Premier League goals last season, and a club-record 52 goals in all competitions as City went on to win the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League treble.
With both Messi and Haaland finishing on the same number of points, the former claimed the top prize having received more first-place nominations from national team captains.
However, Messi’s victory has caused controversy in certain quarters, with some deeming his performance between 19 December 2022 and 20 August 2023 – the period the awards were based on – as less extraordinary than his counterparts.
And in an interview withRecord, the Argentine’s long-time rival Ronaldo has hit out at the credibility of such prizes.
“The numbers are facts”, told Cristiano Ronaldo pic.twitter.com/vuWhx1cPEg
— QueenZ Football (@Queenz_Football) January 21, 2024
Ronaldo, who has scored 24 goals in 25 games for Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr this season, said: “I think that, in a way, these awards are losing credibility. We have to analyse the entire season. It’s not to say that Messi didn’t deserve it, or Haaland or even Mbappe. I simply no longer believe in these awards.
“And it’s not because I won at Globe Soccer. But there are facts, there are numbers. And the numbers don’t deceive. They can’t take this trophy away from me because it’s a reality. So it makes me even happier because the numbers are facts.”
Ronaldo added he was unlikely to be a finalist for the Ballon d’Or or FIFA’s The Best award in future given he is plying his trade in Saudi Arabia.
He said: “We know how other organisms work. Obviously, I always think about my club and the national team first. The awards come after a good season for the club and the national team. I don’t think about it much, honestly.
“As you said, well, the 54 goals I scored [in 2023], there may be those who say it’s easier because I’m in Saudi Arabia.
“But football professionals know that it is difficult to score goals, whether in Saudi Arabia or in Italy, Spain or Portugal. A goal is a goal. In a way, I feel even more proud to have beaten Haaland, Mbappe and [Harry] Kane.”