Lionel Messi's seventh Ballon d'Or success is "absolutely not deserved" and Cristiano Ronaldo was better over the past year, according to Real Madrid star Toni Kroos.
Messi won the 2021 Golden Ball on Monday night after another stellar year for club and country that saw him score 42 goals while getting his hands on Copa del Rey and Copa America honours.
However, Kroos does not believe that the Argentina international, who joined Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Barcelona in the summer, should have finished ahead of some of the other names in the final vote.
What's been said?
The Real Madrid midfielder said on his official podcast: "It's absolutely not deserved.
"There is no doubt that Messi, with Cristiano [Ronaldo], has been the player of the last decade, but this year there should've been others ahead of him."
Pressed on who he felt deserved the accolade this time around, Kroos named his Madrid colleague Karim Benzema before also insisting that Ronaldo should have finished ahead of Messi after the impact he's had since returning to Manchester United.
"For me, Karim would have been the number one if you were really looking for the best individual player of the last year, because I can see from close quarters what an outstanding footballer he is," Kroos added.
"When I see how many decisive goals Cristiano has scored lately - Manchester United are still in the Champions League thanks to him alone - then, in my eyes, Cristiano would have also come before Messi."
Kroos' outrage over the decision to give Messi the prize again was shared by his former Madrid team-mate Iker Casillas.
"It is increasingly difficult for me to believe in football awards," the former Spain international goalkeeper wrote on Twitter.
"For me, Messi, he is one of the five best players in all of history but you have to know how to list the most outstanding players in a season. It's not that hard."
Who else did Messi beat to the Ballon d'Or?
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Kylian Mbappe, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, N'Golo Kante and Jorginho were also among those that had to be content with a spot behind Messi in the top ten.
Robert Lewandowski's position as runner-up proved to be the most controversial, though, with many pundits having previously backed him for the prize following another prolific 12 months at Bayern Munich.
The Polish striker was also the favourite for the 2020 Ballon d'Or before it was cancelled due to coronavirus, and Messi expressed his frustration for his colleague in his latest acceptance speech.
"I wanted to say to Robert that it was an honour to go up against him," said the former Barcelona captain. "He deserved to win it last year."