The 28-year-old Real Madrid forward is the odds-on favourite to win the prestigious accolade ahead of Franck Ribery and Messi, who is in with a chance of scooping the prize for a record fifth year.
For me, it’s a source of pride to play against players such as Messi and Ribery – it’s a privilege and an honour
And the Portugal international moved to play down suggestions of a frosty relationship between himself and the Barcelona star ahead of the Ballon d’Or gala in Zurich on Monday afternoon.
“For me, it’s a source of pride to play against players such as Messi and Ribery – it’s a privilege and an honour,” said Ronaldo.
“We all work hard for our clubs and national teams. I always try to give my best and to improve and evolve as a player. Have we improved each other? Maybe that’s the case.”
Ronaldo, who last won the award back in 2008, when he scored 42 goals to help Manchester United win the Premier League and Champions League, once again insisted that he will not hold any grudges should Messi deny him the prize once again.
“The mere fact of being a finalist is already a source of great happiness for me, so I feel privileged,” Ronaldo continued.
“Of course, I would like to win, but I always try to do my best year after year and I also want to improve in all aspects. Each year is a new challenge and I always try to improve.
“I try to win trophies with my club and national team, and [the Ballon d’Or] is really the icing on the cake. It’s the recognition for all the hard work and sacrifices. If I win, fine – if I don’t life goes on.”
Asked about his fellow nominees for the prize, Messi said: “I admire what they do in their clubs, and we don’t need to go into the detail of the quality of the players next to me.
“To be here is already a source of joy. It’s my seventh straight year participating in this gala event. Hopefully I’ll win another Ballon d’Or but if it doesn’t work out, it’s not a problem.”
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