Xavi Hernandez has extended an olive branch to Cristiano Ronaldo by saying the Real Madrid star “has the numbers” to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.
The former Barcelona midfielder unintentionally started a war of words with Ronaldo in September when he said that Ronaldo cannot be compared to his former teammate Lionel Messi. Ronaldo retorted by bragging about the fact he’s won the Ballon d’Or on three occasions and mocking Xavi’s decision to move to Qatari side Al-Sadd for the final years of his professional career.
However, Xavi has not risen to the Portuguese international’s comments, instead backing him as the primary candidate to be crowned as football’s best player for a fourth time.
“Cristiano has the numbers to win this year’s Ballon d’Or, having won the Champions League and the Euros [with Real Madrid and Portugal],” he said at the ASPIRE4SPORT Congress & Exhibition in Amsterdam.
“But I also think that it’ll be very competitive, because Messi will be there, of course.”
The dispute between the two players started when Xavi was recently asked to compare Ronaldo and Messi in an interview with Cadena SER.
“Ronaldo is a player of his time,” he said, “but the problem is that there is another player who has been pretty much the best player in history.
“Ronaldo is extraordinary but compared to Messi, for me and for everyone who likes football, there can be no comparisons.”
Asked about the comments, Ronaldo replied: “I couldn’t care less about what Xavi says about me, he plays in Qatar or I don’t even know where.
“He’s won every collective trophy, including a World Cup and the European Championship, but he’s never won a Ballon d’Or.”
In August, Ronaldo was named UEFA Best Player in Europe ahead of Madrid teammate Gareth Bale and Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.
This year’s Ballon d’Or will be voted on exclusively by journalists after France Football ended its six-year association with FIFA in September.
That relationship had seen the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s World Player of the Year combined for the last six years, with journalists and national team captains and coaches voting on the world’s best player.
FIFA have not announced their plans for the World Player of the Year award going forward.