Barcelona star Lionel Messi has conceded that Bayern Munich ace Franck Ribery deserved to win UEFA's Best Player in Europe award.
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were pipped to the award at a UEFA ceremony in Monaco in August, and the 26-year-old Argentine says Ribery's treble success with Bayern Munich meant the right man walked away with the prize.
"It was an honor to be in this race again, among the best three players in Europe," Messi told UEFA. "There are so many great players in the world, and it is a real pleasure to be in the competition, but he [Ribery] deserved to win the trophy."
The Blaugrana were humbled 7-0 on aggregate by the German giants en route to the Champions League crown last season. While Messi admits that the defeat left a "bitter taste" in his mouth, he believes the team must not dwell on the past if it is to bounce back from last year's disappointment in Europe.
"We always want to achieve more. Winning the league was very important, because of what it signified – winning it back after Real Madrid had won it last year," Messi said. "There's also a bitter taste after what happened in the semifinal against Bayern Munich, where there was a big gap between the two teams – we didn't go into it in our best shape. But that's the past and we have to look forward."
The Catalans resume their Liga campaign following the international break by welcoming Sevilla to Camp Nou on Saturday.