Cristiano Ronaldo has told France Football he believes he might have won the Ballon d’Or more times than Lionel Messi if they had played in the same team but described his rival as “a great player.”
Barcelona forward Messi, 29, came second to Ronaldo, 31, in the 2016 vote, but has five Ballons d’Or to the Real Madrid man’s four.
Portugal captain Ronaldo polled a massive 745 points — over 400 more than Messi — in this year’s poll, which canvassed a handpicked panel of journalists worldwide.
On whether he would have claimed the award more times had they played in the same side, Ronaldo said: “It’s a difficult question. I don’t know.
“It would be interesting to see both of us in the same team. I think great players should play together. So if we were in the same team, I think I would have more than him, but he wouldn’t be far off.
“Everyone knows Messi is a great player. He’s won five Ballons d’Or.”
He said he was hopeful he would draw level with the Argentina star’s tally in 2017, saying: “I’m going to try. I’ll be in the fight, as always, but my objective now is to win the Club World Cup, an important trophy.
“After that, to win La Liga. It’s a title that Real wants to win. And if possible, the Champions League again and the Copa del Rey. I always want to win everything.”
Though Madrid missed out on the league title despite his 35 goals in 36 league games, Ronaldo won the Champions League as well as Euro 2016 with Portugal.
Ronaldo, 31, also said he is planning on reducing the demands on his body, having played at least 30 league games for Madrid in each of the last six seasons, even if his ambitions remain high.
“It’s a totally normal thing. Not only for me,” he said. “With age, every human loses something but gains something else.
“I always look at how to be at my best physically and in my game. I think of all that, not only for this season but for the next as well. For example, to manage the matches, in the sense of not playing everything.
“You have to be intelligent. To train as well as possible, to have a more personalised preseason. And to think a little more about the end of the sesaon, not only the start. It’s not a sprint, but a marathon. You have to use your head. Not only me, but also those around me. There are a lot of people who advise me at Real among those who look after me directly. I’m going to learn.
“You have to do it, and accept reality, which is that I am 31. It’s not easy, because I feel really good, but I see that the recovery after games is not exactly the same. It’s a little slower, particularly when I have put in very intense effort every three days.
“It’s impossible to always be at your best, even for a youngster. If I look after myself, I think I can have a very long career.”
The former Manchester United man, who scored 12 goals in 17 competitive appearances for Madrid this season, did acknowledge he would also be happy to change position if he were no longer able to be as effective on the pitch as he is in his current role.
“Why not? It’s an idea to think about,” he said. “I’m ready and I accept things change. It’s not a problem.
“I don’t just have the ambition of winning the Ballon d’Or. The main thing is to play football, to train in the rain, the cold. When I no longer feel that desire to play and to train, I’ll stop. In life, everything has a beginning and an end. Even more so in football.
“I know that there will come a time when I can no longer score 50 goals a season, nor win the Ballon d’Or or even be nominated. It’s a normal process. In two or three years, I don’t know if I’ll still be nominated. But I hope so.”