Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez says he sticks by comments that his one-time teammate Lionel Messi is a better player than Cristiano Ronaldo, while also claiming he did not show a lack of respect to the Real Madrid star.
Speaking earlier on Tuesday at an Aspire event in Amsterdam, Xavi said Ronaldo’s numbers made him favourite to win a fourth Ballon d’Or this year, while insisting that he expected Messi to be in the running too.
Later that evening, the former Spain international was being unveiled as the latest La Liga ambassador and told AS that he had in no way wished to disrespect Ronaldo with his comments.
“I just gave my opinion, Messi is the best player in the world,” Xavi clarified. “The best in history, nothing more. That’s my opinion and I think people who like football think the same as me.
“I saw that Cristiano did not take it well, but I still think the same. What he said about the Ballon d’Ors is also true. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but my opinion has not changed. It was not a lack of respect from me.”
Reporters present followed up by asking if Ronaldo’s replies had shown a lack of respect on his part. “What do you think?” Xavi responded.
Xavi had unintentionally started the controversy back in May when stated that Messi had more “intelligence” than Ronaldo and was therefore the better player in an interview with “The New Arab.”
Although Xavi quickly clarified that he had been talking about football intelligence, nothing more, the indirect back and forth has continued into the Autumn.
After Madrid’s recent 5-2 La Liga win over Osasuna, Ronaldo retorted by bragging about the fact he’s won the Ballon d’Or on three occasions to Xavi’s zero, and apparently mocking Xavi’s decision to finish his playing career out of Europe at Qatari side Al-Sadd.