Samuel Eto’o has added his voice to the racket surrounding the war of words between Xavi Hernandez and Cristiano Ronaldo, claiming the former Barcelona midfielder should have won the Ballon d’Or five or six times.
Real Madrid star Ronaldo dismissed Xavi’s decision to play in Qatar last weekend before boasting about the three Ballons d’Or he’s won in his career.
He was responding to comments the 36-year-old had made about Lionel Messi being the best player in the world.
Eto’o feels the Portugal international’s reaction was unnecessary and insisted that Xavi — who has won four Champions Leagues, two European Championships and the World Cup in his career — shouldn’t be criticised for a lack of individual recognition.
“A player can’t say because they have four or five [Ballons d’Or], they’re the best,” he told Spanish radio station Cadena SER.
“If the Ballon d’Or was fair, Xavi would have won five or six. He deserves all the respect in the world.
“Xavi did not say what he said [about Messi being the best] out of a lack of respect. Xavi is Xavi.”
Xavi had recognised Ronaldo as an “elite footballer” but said that he was unlucky to have been around at the same time as Messi, adding that the two players are incomparable.
Ronaldo’s retort was less polite: “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 about what Xavi says about me, he plays in Qatar or I don’t even know where.
“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 is currently playing for Turkish side Antalyaspor, but he spent five years playing alongside Xavi at Camp Nou between 2004 an 2009.
During that time he also witnessed Messi up close and he feels that the Argentine does have the edge on Ronaldo in the battle to be considered the world’s best footballer.
He added: “I’ll always go with Messi because of the things I’ve seen him do.
“That doesn’t take away from the fact Cristiano is making history in football. But I go with Messi because I’ve been closer to him.”