If Lionel Messi wants to win the Ballon d’Or for a fifth time, then he needs to act a little bit more like Cristiano Ronaldo.
That’s the verdict of Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Graham Hunter after the Barcelona star was beaten by his Real Madrid rival for the second year in a row.
The last seven Ballon d’Or awards have been shared between the two players and Hunter reckons Messi needs to become more ruthless if he wants to win it back next year.
And he says that Ronaldo could provide the inspiration.
“We’re talking about a changing man,” Hunter said on Revista de la Liga.
“Lionel Messi cared a lot less about things like this until recently. Until captaincy, maturity and fatherhood there was no sense of the hand of Father Time reaching out, but he is 27, turning 28, and he has been overtaken by Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I think there are ways for him to improve his performance by looking at Ronaldo and copying that same, absolutely ruthless ‘I want to be the best’ (attitude).
“The beneficiaries would obviously be everybody around him at the club – but I don’t think there would be any harm in him saying ‘there’s maybe just one thing I can learn from Ronaldo, the ruthlessness about my goals'."
Ronaldo gave an emotional acceptance speech when he ended Messi’s run of four straight Ballon d’Or awards 12 months ago, but fellow Revista pundit Guillem Balague says he was much more composed this time.
The Spanish football journalist believes the starting gun has already been sounded in the race for the 2015 prize – and he says Ronaldo has his heart set on claiming a fourth prize and drawing level with Messi.
“It’s interesting that Cristiano mentioned that the next one is the one where he is going to catch Lionel Messi,” said Balague.
“After all the emotion of the second one, when he stopped the run of Messi and it felt genuine, here it was like ‘yes I’ve won it’ – but it’s all about the next one. It’s about the fourth one.
“That’s Cristiano all over, always setting himself targets and targets that in many cases haven’t been matched in history.”