Lionel Messi has lavished praise on Cristiano Ronaldo after labelling him an 'outstanding player'.
The Barcelona forward is the reigning World Player of the Year, but his Real Madrid counterpart is expected to take that crown at the Ballon d'Or ceremony in Zurich on Monday night.
However, Messi, 26, insisted that despite the duo's ongoing on-field contest, he is a great admirer of the Portugal captain.
"He has great qualities and I admire what he does for his club and for his country," Messi explained at the pre-ceremony press conference.
"Above and beyond the fact we are rivals, he is an outstanding player."
The Argentina international added that he was unconcerned about the prospect of losing the title of the world's best player after winning the award for the past four years.
"Just to be here is a source of joy. It's my seventh straight year at this gala event and if I don't win it's not a problem.
"What I've done in the past and what I've won in the past is wonderful, but now I look to the future and I want to keep playing well and winning things for Barcelona and Argentina."