Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo responded to a claim that individual success is paramount for the 36-year-old.
Speaking with the New York Times' Rory Smith, France Football editor-in-chief Pascal Ferre said he had a conversation with Ronaldo in which the Portuguese winger said his only ambition at this point was to collect more Ballon d'Or awards than Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo said on Instagram that Ferre lied and that "the greatest ambition of my career is to win national and international titles for the clubs I represent and for my country's national team."
Ronaldo, who didn't attend Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, also claimed Ferre "lied again today justifying my absence for the Gala with an alleged quarantine that has no reason to be."
Even if the award, which is one of two presented to the best players in the world in a given calendar year, isn't one of his driving motivators, it seems reasonable to conclude the 36-year-old might like to end his career with a bigger trophy case than Messi. Their rivalry on the pitch has been the biggest in world football over the last dozen years.
Chasing down Messi might be impossible, though, after the Paris Saint-Germain star lifted his seventh Ballon d'Or. Ronaldo remains stuck at five and finished sixth in the voting for 2021.
His outlook isn't looking great for 2022.
Ronaldo has 10 goals in 15 appearances this season for United, but the Red Devils are eighth in the Premier League with 18 points through 13 matches. Despite his goals, the benefits of Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford has been the subject of discussion.
Things aren't much better at the national team level.
Portugal finished second in Group A for 2022 World Cup qualifying, meaning the Euro 2016 champion will need to qualify through a playoff. There's a chance the Selecao miss out on the World Cup altogether in what's almost certainly Ronaldo's last window to compete in that tournament.