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29 Nov, 2021 15:22

Cristiano Ronaldo ‘to shun’ Ballon d’Or bash where Lionel Messi is tipped to triumph

Cristiano Ronaldo ‘to shun’ Ballon d’Or bash where Lionel Messi is tipped to triumph

Cristiano Ronaldo will reportedly not be heading to Lionel Messi's new home of Paris on Monday for a ceremony which is expected to send his fellow great further ahead of him in Ballon d'Or wins.

Paris Saint-Germain newcomer Messi is the strong favorite to win the award for a record seventh time, moving him two gongs ahead of his most familiar rival for the prize.

Despite scoring 43 goals, providing six assists and winning two domestic trophies with former club Juventus this year, Ronaldo is a rank outsider to lift the trophy for a sixth occasion – and the first time since 2017.

Poland captain and Bayern Munich goal machine Robert Lewandowski is thought to be the only player with an outside chance of beating Messi, with Ronaldo reputedly well down the pecking order.

That is certain to frustrate the Portugal skipper if reports of one of his remaining targets in the game are true.

Pascal Ferre, the editor of France Football, is widely reported to have told the New York Times that Ronaldo wants to win the title more times than Messi by the time he finally retires.

"Ronaldo has only one ambition and that is to retire with more Ballon d'Or [awards] than Messi," Ferre has been quoted as saying. "I know because he has told me."

Evergreen Ronaldo is two years older than 34-year-old Messi, meaning time is realistically running out for that aim to be fulfilled.

Ronaldo drew level with Messi on five triumphs while he was with Spanish giants Real Madrid four years ago.

That was the second successive year in which the Argentina talisman had finished second to the only striker who has been consistently comparable to him for more than a decade.

With the exception of Croatian magician Luka Modric – the recipient in 2018 – Messi and Ronaldo have been the only winners of the Ballon d'Or since 2008.

Ronaldo was the winner by a landslide in 2016 and 2017, only for Messi to finish well ahead of the former Sporting Lisbon prodigy in 2019, who came third behind Liverpool and Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk.

Messi will almost certainly be present for the announcement, which is taking place at the Chatelet Theater in the city he made a shock move to when he left Barcelona, where he had spent his entire career, in August.

Manchester United host Arsenal in the Premier League on Thursday, and Ronaldo may have sized up his chances of winning the Ballon d'Or before deciding to stay in England to prepare for his side's first game under new interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

RT Sport will have news and reaction from the 2021 Ballon d'Or ceremony from around 8.30pm CET on Monday November 29.

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