Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu described Cristiano Ronaldo as a “great player” but insisted Lionel Messi is the best in the world and of all time.
Ronaldo collected his fourth Ballon d’Or on Monday, beating Barcelona rival and five-time winner Messi to the France Football prize.
The award capped a fine season for Ronaldo, who became Madrid’s record goalscorer last October before going on to win the Champions League, Euro 2016 and the UEFA Super Cup.
Bartomeu, though, reiterated Messi’s standing in the game following Barca’s trip to Qatar, where they beat Saudi champions Al Ahli 5-3 in a friendly midweek.
“The world number one is Leo Messi. He has been, it is and will remain so, but Cristiano is a great player,” Bartomeu said in quotes attributed to BeIN Sports in Qatar.
“Messi is the best in the world and of all time. At 29 is at a high level and better every day.”
Bartomeu also reassured fans that Barca want Messi to retire at Camp Nou.
Messi’s current deal expires in June 2018 and the Argentina captain is yet to pen a contract amid conflicting reports over the progress of the negotiations.
“He has a contract and there is time to talk about his contract,” he added. “We want to finish his career at Barcelona.”
Messi tops the LaLiga goalscoring charts with 11, one more than Ronaldo.