Barcelona star Xavi has claimed that 2010 Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is of a “higher level” than he or colleague Andres Iniesta.
The Argentine edged out the Spanish World Cup-winning duo earlier this month to retain the prize he collected last year.
Barca’s all-time appearance record-holder had been tipped to collect the award, but in an interview with magazine DiR Emotions, the 31-year-old confessed: “I am happy to have been among the trio of candidates for the Ballon d’Or.
“Leo is above both Andres and me. He is the best in the world and arguably one of the top five in the history of football.”
Xavi also conceded that he is fortunate to earn a living playing football, adding: “I know 100 per cent that I am privileged.
"I get paid a fortune for doing what I like, something that 80% of the population cannot say, and I am a Cule until death. What else can I ask? I see Barcelona as a family business. I want to do well, always.”