Robert Lewandowski was unconvinced by Lionel Messi’s tribute towards him at last week’s Ballon d’Or ceremony, as the Bayern Munich star labelled his rival’s comments ‘empty words’.
Messi, 34, controversially pipped Lewandowski, 33, to the 2021 prize, with many fans and pundits opining that the Polish marksman was more deserving of the award.
The Bayern Munich striker was the standout performer of 2020 and was cruelly denied the Ballon d’Or that year as it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his acceptance speech, Messi acknowledged that Lewandowski deserved the prize for 2020, and called on event organisers, France Football, to retrospectively hand the Pole his gong.
“Last year, everyone agreed that you were the winner and I think that France Football should give you the Ballon d’Or that you deserve,” he said.
However, the 33-year-old was unmoved by Messi’s comments, labelling them ‘empty words’ before insisting that he does not care for a token reward.
“I’m not that enthusiastic about getting the 2020 award,’ Lewandowski told Kanale Sportowym via Marca.
“I would like it [Messi’s 2020 Ballon d’Or statement] to be a sincere and courteous statement from a great player and not just an empty words.’
Reflecting on last week’s near-miss, Lewandowski said: “I felt sadness. I can’t deny it.
“I can’t say I was happy, on the contrary. I have a feeling of sadness. To be so close, to compete with Messi, of course I respect how he plays and what he has achieved. The mere fact that I was able to compete with him shows me the level that I was able to reach.”
Lewandowski has scored 130 goals in 108 games since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, and his missing out on the top prize will serve as motivation for his Bayern Munich teammates, Thomas Muller revealed.