Per AS' Juan Jimenez, he said:
"Messi is the player that makes the most difference in the world. It's more than obvious.
"Messi does more things compared to Cristiano. Messi is the best. If Cristiano considers himself the best player in history, that's fine, but those of us who see him train, there is no comparison. Messi is the best in history and we don't see it any other way."
Xavi's comments come after Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d'Or to pull level with the Argentinian. The Portuguese followed up the triumph with a remarkable claim:
The 32-year-old is a phenomenal player, and after netting more than 600 goals for club and country in his career, he's at least earned a place in the conversation as to the best of all time.
He has had yet another outstanding year of success, per the UEFA Champions League's official Twitter account:
It's hardly surprising Xavi believes his former team-mate to be superior, and he has witnessed firsthand many of the countless moments of magic Messi has produced during his own incredible career.
Andreas Vou believes the two don't compare, though:
In regards to the Ballon d'Or, the voting is, to an extent, a popularity contest, one in which Ronaldo excels thanks to his impressive ability to market himself.
What's more, Barcelona have declined somewhat in recent years, so while Messi has maintained a similarly otherworldly standard of play, that has not been reflected in his side's silverware haul. As a result, he has not truly been in contention for football's most prestigious individual award, despite coming second only to Ronaldo in the last two years.
Rafael Hernandez and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker believe Ronaldo has benefited from the evolution in the thinking behind the Ballon d'Or voting:
Gary Lineker @GaryLineker
Or it could be that the best players, certainly in the last decade, have been forwards 🤔. In fact you could argue that, if it were truly for the best footballer of the year rather than, on occasions, the best footballer from the best team, Messi would win it every year. https://t.co/iIyvYiDowN
Regardless of how many Ballons d'Or the players win—and they'll likely collect more before their careers are done—there will always be those who favour one or the other, and the debate will never be universally agreed upon.
The two players will go head-to-head on Saturday when their sides meet in La Liga, a match that could make or break Madrid's slim title chances.
Unless Ronaldo can help Real triumph, or at least avoid defeat, they'll head into the Christmas break 14 points behind Barcelona with only one game in hand.