Lionel Messi admits “it hurts” when Cristiano Ronaldo joined him on five Ballon d’Or triumphs, with the Barcelona superstar claiming to understand the frustration of a rival who opted not to attend the 2019 ceremony.

Messi admits he found it difficult to see Ronaldo claiming his fifth award. “When Cristiano moved level, I admit that it hurt me a bit. I was no longer alone at the top. But it made sense, although it was good when I was alone at five.

“Was I frustrated in the last few years? Let’s say I understood why I did not win. “As a team, we had not achieved our major goal, which was to win the Champions League, which gives you more chances to win the Ballon d’Or.

“When Cristiano Ronaldo won it is because he had achieved great seasons by winning the Champions League and being decisive. It was deserved, there was not much I could do.

“It is also down to individual taste. Some prefer Cristiano, others myself or Neymar or [Kylian] Mbappe. People have the right to choose the one they like most.”