Former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Samuel Eto'o has told Cristiano Ronaldo to respect Xavi Hernandez, adding that the Spanish legend would have won five or six Ballons d'Or if the trophy was fair. Furthermore, the Cameroon star declared that Lionel Messi is the world's best player, ahead of Ronaldo.
"Ronaldo is extraordinary but compared to Messi, for me and for everyone who likes football, there can be no comparisons," he said. "Messi will be number one until he wants [to stop]. He's superior to everyone and is the best in the world, except maybe for those related to Real Madrid."
Ronaldo hit back angrily days later, saying Xavi was not worthy to speak on his achievements as he had never won a Ballon d'Or.
"I'm the most searched player on the internet. Anyone who wants free publicity or media attention talks about me. I couldn't care less what Xavi says about me, he plays in Qatar or I don't even know where," Ronaldo said. "He's won every collective trophy, including a World Cup and the European Championship, but he's never won a Ballon D'or."
Eto'o, who played with Xavi at Barcelona after developing in the Real Madrid academy, has waded into the debate, sending Ronaldo a cutting message.
"Firstly, Xavi deserves all the respect in the world," Eto'o told Ronaldo during an interview with Cadena Ser. "Had the Ballon d'Or been a fair award, Xavi would have won it five or six times."
The former Chelsea striker went on to say Xavi was right in his comments, adding that Messi was the best in the world.
"I am always going to position myself in Messi's favour. I have seen him grow as a player," Eto'o added. "Cristiano Ronaldo is also writing a history in football, but I am prefer Messi. And if Xavi said that it is because he also knows Messi. I do not think he wanted to disrespect Ronaldo with his comments."