Cristiano Ronaldo hits out at 'lies' over Ballon d'Or rivalry with Lionel Messi

Portuguese forward finished sixth in standings as Argentine claimed award for record-extending seventh time

Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo has hit out Ballon d'Or organiser Pascal Ferre by saying the the editor-in-chief of France Football "lied" about his rivalry with Lionel Messi.

Messi on Monday night won the Ballon d'Or, awarded to the best footballer over the calendar year, for a record-extending seventh time. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski finished second, with Chelsea midfielder Jorginho completing the top three.

Ronaldo, who has won the award five times to ensure either he or Messi won 12 of the past 13, placed sixth to finish outside the top five for the first time since 2010.

Speaking to the New York Times, Ferre said: "Cristiano Ronaldo has only one ambition and that is to retire with more Ballon d'Or than Messi ... I know because he told me."

Ronaldo, 36, responded to Ferre's comments in an Instagram post on Monday, saying: "Today's outcome explains the comments by Pascal Ferré last week, when he stated that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Ballons d'Or than Lionel Messi.

"Pascal Ferré lied and used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication that he works for. It's unacceptable for the person responsible for handing out such a prestigious award to lie in this way and to show disrespect to someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d'Or. He lied again today to justify my absence from the ceremony due to an alleged quarantine that has no reason to exist.

"I always congratulate whoever wins, in tandem with the sportsmanship and fair play that have underpinned my career since the start and I do that because I'm never against anyone. I always win for myself and for the clubs that I represent. I win for myself and for those who love me. I don't win against anyone.

"My biggest ambition in my career is to win trophies at club and international level, for the clubs that I play for and my national team. My biggest ambition in my career is to set a good example for everyone who is or wants to be a professional footballer. My biggest ambition in my career is to have my name written in gold in world football history.

"I'll finish up by saying that my focus is already on Manchester United's next game and everything that we can still achieve this season alongside my teammates and our fans. As for the rest, the rest is just that…"

2021 Ballon d'Or rankings in full

Messi won the 2021 Ballon d'Or after a year in which he scored 40 goals for club and country - 28 for Barcelona, four for Paris Saint-Germain, and eight for Argentina, whom he led to the Copa America title, his first major international trophy.

Ronaldo's comparatively low placing comes after a disappointing year by his own standards at club and international level. Juventus struggled in Serie A, surrendering their title to Inter Milan and finishing fourth, while Portugal were eliminated from the last 16 at Euro 2020. Ronaldo, however, still scored 43 goals - 30 for clubs Juventus and Manchester United, and 13 for Portugal.

Updated: November 30th 2021, 6:24 AM