It ensured that the shared grip on the award between Messi and Ronaldo continued – they have won 12 of the last 13 individual titles between them, with Luka Modric’s crowning in 2018 the only interruption of their dominance.
The cancellation of last year’s Ballon d’Or awards further added to the frustration for Lewandowski – who led Bayern to comprehensive domestic and European glory, including the Champions League title.
Lewandowski has now explained the key difference between Messi and Ronaldo, the two players who have often pipped him to the individual titles.
The Poland international did claim that it was a matter of ‘preference’ when choosing between the two superstars, but there was one measure which for him was incredibly important.
Lewandowski explained to Bild: “Since I became a professional, Messi and Ronaldo have been above everyone else.
“It has always been a duel between them. It’s all about what kind of player you prefer.
“The answer to the question (of which is superior) is difficult.
“I respect the hard work of Cristiano Ronaldo. For Messi everything seems easy.
“I think Cristiano has had to work harder to succeed.”
Lewandowski was then asked about his frustration at once again just missing out on this year’s Ballon d’Or title.
“These are small details, everything has to be in its place,” he added.
“What I can guarantee is that I will continue to do my job and provide my best performances.”
Messi had praised Lewandowski’s annual performances and said that he was deserving of a title with the Bayern striker adding that he hoped those were “not empty words” from the Argentine.
Getty Images Europe)
Lewandowski has now clarified the comments: “Leo’s words moved me a lot. They were not empty words, it was a good moment in my career.
“I only spoke a few words with Leo because my Spanish is not very good.
“I spoke with Kylian (Mbappe) in English, then he translated for Leo.”
Lewandowski is only the second German-based outfield player to make the top three podium of the Ballon d’Or awards this century, after Ribery’s third-placed finish in 2013.
This year, Lewandowski equalled Ronaldo’s all-time best annual goals record by netting 69 goals across the calendar year.