The football world has been turned on its head this year, and not many would have predicted seeing Sergio Ramos endorsing Lionel Messi to become this year's recipient of the Ballon d'Or trophy. However, the two former rivals have suddenly become teammates at Paris Saint-Germain this summer, and Ramos admits that he wants to support the former Barcelona captain's bid for a record-extending seventh crown.

The 2021 Ballon d'Or ceremony will take place on Monday in Paris, and Messi is one of the favourites to receive the award. His closest rival this year is Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski, who was widely believed to have been leading the race last year. Unfortunately, the 2020 edition of the prestigious award was cancelled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Midfielder Jorginho, who won the UEFA Champions League with Chelsea and Euro 2020 with Italy, is also one of the contenders.

Interestingly though, Ramos decided to support Messi despite the fact that former Real Madrid teammate Karim Benzema is also up for the award. Apart from the Frenchman, the Ballon d'Or is not complete without mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo, whom Ramos supported on numerous occasions in the past.

When asked about his bet for this year, Ramos did not hesitate to tell ESPN that he is fully behind his current teammate. "Of course I hope Messi wins. I'm going to defend the guys in my team. I wish him all the luck in the world," he said.

Ramos then went on to explain his decision: "He's in good shape, and I think he's the kind of player who really makes a difference. He's a unique player and it's a privilege to have him in the team." he added.

The interview comes just after the Spaniard finally made his long-awaited debut for PSG in their 3-1 victory against Saint-Etienne on Sunday. He joined the club on a free transfer back in August, but only managed to make his debut on Sunday after being sidelined due to an injury.

"I think that bit by bit, each of us is going to bring our own quality to make Paris Saint-Germain even greater and achieve the things we want to achieve," he said.

Apart from making his debut, Ramos also played a competitive match with Messi on the same side for the first time against Saint-Etienne. Both former La Liga rivals were stellar, with Messi
providing three assists and Ramos also logging impressive statistics as a defender. According to AS, the 101 passes he made during the match is a game-high and the best tally for a PSG player making his Ligue 1 debut since the 2006-07 season.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi Photo: AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON