Sergio Ramos says that he wishes Lionel Messi "all the luck in the world" ahead of this week's Ballon d'Or ceremony, and hopes that his new Paris Saint-Germain team-mate can bring home the honour once more.
The former rivals-turned-clubmates at the Ligue 1 giants helped inspire a comeback win against Saint-Etienne this weekend on the Spaniard's full debut for the club, with the Argentine notching up a hat-trick of assists in a 3-1 win.
Any previously shielded mutual respect looks to have broken free of its confines between the two players now however after their link-up in the French capital - and as Messi goes for a record seventh victory in the contest to be crowned the world's greatest player, Ramos is fully backing him to succeed once more.
What has been said?
"Yes, of course [I hope he wins]," Ramos told ESPN ahead of this week's ceremony. "I'm going to defend the guys in my team. I wish him all the luck in the world.
"He's in good shape, and I think he's the kind of player who really makes a difference. He's a unique player and it's a privilege to have him in the team.
"I think that bit by bit, each of us is going to bring our own quality to make Paris Saint-Germain even greater and achieve the things we want to achieve."
Full debut cements history for duo
Both Messi and Ramos can lay claim to being the best player in their respective positions within La Liga over the past two decades, and few would likely argue against such status.
But even when news broke that the Argentine was to leave Barcelona and would follow in the footsteps of his Real Madrid rival to Parc des Princes, it still felt like something of a peculiar pipe dream.
Though the two did not enjoying a winning start when they finally played together for the first time in the same colours against Manchester City midweek in the Champions League, the duo's maiden link-up in a first-choice XI this weekend saw them truly bury the hatchet to help steer a much-needed fightback against Saint-Etienne.
The bigger picture
Messi will discover if his quest for another Ballon d'Or has been successful at this week's ceremony in Paris.
It marks the return of the event, following the decision to forgo it last year - one of the very few instances where it has not been held.
Among the other chief frontrunners are Ramos' former team-mate Karim Benzema at Real Madrid - though whose suspended prison sentence handed down last week could prove a stumbling block - and Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, assumed by many to have been the likely favourite had it been awarded for 2020.