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Robert Lewandowski expands on Lionel Messi Ballon d’Or comments amid rift claims

Robert Lewandowski was initially claimed to have described Lionel Messi’s plea for him to be given the 2020 Ballon d’Or retrospectively as “empty words,” but the Bayern Munich striker has now clarified his remarks

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Lionel Messi wins record seventh Ballon d’Or: Darren Wells reports

Robert Lewandowski has denied any rift with Lionel Messi after it was claimed that he described the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner’s classy comments as “empty words.”

The Bayern Munich hitman narrowly missed out on winning a first Ballon d’Or when Messi picked up his seventh golden ball in Paris last Monday.

Lewandowski had been the favourite alongside the Argentine to go home with the award, having been cruelly unable to win it in 2020 due to the competition being cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Messi said during his acceptance speech: “You were the winner last year and France Football should give you the award. You deserve it, you should have it at home too.”

Join the debate! Who deserved to win the 2021 Ballon d’Or? Let us know your thoughts here.

Messi won his seventh Ballon d’Or, narrowly beating Lewandowski
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

Lewandowski was then reported to have aired his frustrations on Polish show Moc Futbolu on TV station Kanale Sportowym, sparking speculation of a rift between the two contenders.

But the 33-year-old has moved to clear up the matter, explaining: “My statement, which I made in an interview with a Polish TV/Viaplay broadcaster, is currently being taken out of context.

“I never said that Lionel Messi’s words were not sincere.

“On the contrary: Lionel Messi’s speech at the event in Paris, in which he expressed that, in his opinion, I deserved the Ballon d’Or 2020, was very kind.

“With my statement, I just wanted to express that I would of course be very happy if Messi’s words were heard.

“I respect and appreciate Lionel Messi beyond measure and once again I would like to congratulate him on winning the Ballon d’Or 2021.”

There was widespread outrage when Messi was announced as the winner last Monday, with Mirror Football in Paris to cover the star-studded ceremony.

German newspaper Bild blasted the vote and claimed the Pole was “cheated”, having broken Gerd Muller ‘s 49-year-old record for goals in a single Bundesliga season last May.

“This can not be true. It is a scandalous choice,” the outlet added amid calls to hand him the 2020 award retrospectively.

Have your say! Should Lewandowski be given the 2020 Ballon d’Or? Comment your thoughts below.

Lewandowski has scored 66 goals in 2021

Lewandowski was instead given the first ‘Striker of the Year’ award in order to not go home empty handed after scoring 64 goals for his club and Poland in 2021 prior to the ceremony.

He added two more for Bayern in his first game after missing out, bagging a brace against former employers Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, with the home fans jeering the master marksman.

Post-match, manager Julian Nagelsmann declared: “All of this rather spurred him on.

“He scored the significant goals and paid the fans back after all the Messi calls in the stadium.”

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