Cristiano Ronaldo has torn into the Ballon d’Or organiser who said his “only ambition” was to end his career with more wins than Lionel Messi.
The Manchester United forward has won the golden ball five times while his Paris Saint-Germain rival Messi, 34, has six gongs to his name already.
The Argentine attacker is a huge favourite to triumph for a seventh time during a ceremony in the French capital on Monday, and Ronaldo will not be attending.
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The Ballon d’Or is presented by magazine France Football, whose editor-in-chief stoked the rivalry between the two outstanding footballers just last week.
Pascal Ferre told the New York Times: “Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi, and I know that because he has told me.”
Following Ferre’s comments, Ronaldo hit back on Instagram with an astonishing statement, branding the alleged claims “lies” and saying he has always championed “sportsmanship”.
“Today’s outcome explains why Pascal Ferre’s statements last week, when he stated that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Golden Balls than Lionel Messi,” the Portugal captain wrote.
“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for.
“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or.
“And he lied again today, justifying my absence from the Gala with an alleged quarantine that has no reason to exist.
“I always want to congratulate those who win, within the sportsmanship and fair-play that have guided my career since the beginning, and I do it because I’m never against anyone.
“I always win for myself and for the clubs I represent, I win for myself and for those who love me. I don’t win against anyone. “The biggest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for the national team in my country.
“The biggest ambition of my career is to be a good example for all those who are or want to be professional footballers. “The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.
“I will end by saying that my focus is already on Manchester United’s next game and on everything that, together with my team-mates and our fans, we can still achieve this season.
“The rest? The rest is just the rest…”