‘I respect and appreciate Lionel Messi beyond measure and once again congratulate him on winning the Ballon d’Or 2021.’
Robert Lewandowski has clarified that he is grateful for Lionel Messi’s comments at the Ballon d’Or ceremony last week after reports claimed that he was aggrieved at the sincerity of the Argentine’s words during his acceptance speech.
The Bayern Munich striker admitted that he ‘wasn’t happy’ to see Messi win the prestigious award after he finished second in the rankings.
While Lewandowski finished behind the Paris Saint-Germain forward – who claimed his seventh Ballon d’Or – many believe that Lewandowski should have won the Ballon d’Or.
He revealed that it was difficult to watch Messi receive the award, telling Kanal Sportowy: “I felt sadness. I can’t deny it.
“I can’t say I was happy, on the contrary. I have a feeling of sadness.
“To be so close, to compete with Messi, of course I respect how he plays and what he has achieved. The mere fact that I was able to compete with him shows me the level that I was able to reach.”
Upon receiving his award, Messi payed tribute to Lewandowski, claiming that Football France should award him with the 2020 award as recognition for his achievements last year.
Despite this, the ex-Dortmund attacker insisted that he was not ‘enthusiastic’ about getting the 2020 award.
He added: “I’m not that enthusiastic about getting the 2020 award.
“I would like it [Messi’s statement] to be a sincere and courteous statement from a great player and not just empty words.”
Robert Lewandowski: “My statement, which I made in an interview with a Polish TV broadcaster, is currently being misinterpreted. I never wanted to say that Lionel Messi’s words were not serious or sincere” [Kicker] pic.twitter.com/t8JTStFqT4
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) December 7, 2021
Some people also suggested that the striker was questioning the sincerity of the former Barcelona man’s comments, but the Poland international has since dismissed these claims.
In contrast, Lewandowski stated that Messi’s comments ‘really touched him and made him happy’.
“My statement, which I made in an interview with a Polish TV / Via Play broadcaster, is currently being misinterpreted,” he told Sportsmail.
“I never say 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, really touched me and made me happy.
“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 congratulate him on winning the Ballon d’Or 2021.”
Lewandowski and Bayern face-off against Messi’s former side Barcelona on Wednesday, with Julian Nagelsmann’s side having won all of their opening five matches in Group E.