MADRID • Cristiano Ronaldo has hit back at Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez by mocking the Spaniard's inability to win the Ballon d'Or (world player of the year award) and claiming that he is the most in-demand player on the planet.
Xavi, who now plays for Al Sadd in Qatar, told Spanish radio station La SER earlier last week that, despite his achievements, Ronaldo could not come close to matching those of Xavi's former Barca team-mate Lionel Messi.
"There is no comparison between Messi (who has won the Ballon five times) and Ronaldo," said the former Spain international. "Cristiano's problem is that there's another player in his era who is the best of all time."
The Portuguese forward did not take those comments lying down.
"Something was released the other day online that said I am the most searched-for player on the Internet," said Ronaldo, who made a scoring return from a two-month injury layoff in Real's 5-2 win over Osasuna on Saturday - which equalled the club's 1960-61 record of 15 successive La Liga wins.
"When players, coaches want to appear on the front pages they talk about Cris, it is normal. What do I care what Xavi says.
"Xavi plays in Qatar, it doesn't have any relevance. Xavi has won everything, the World Cup, European Championship... and he has never won the Ballon d'Or. I have three."
Ronaldo is favoured to beat Messi to his fourth Ballon d'Or in January after lifting the Champions League with Real in May and then ending Portugal's drought at Euro 2016.
Real are expected to announce a major contract extension for Ronaldo before the month is out, with a one-year transfer ban looming over the European champions for the next two windows.
And the 31-year-old called on Real president Florentino Perez to extend his deal for a decade to ensure he ends his career at the Bernabeu.
"If I was the president of Real Madrid and I had a player like me, I would renew him for 10 years at least," said Ronaldo, whose current contract runs out in 2018.
"Everything is on track. I am not worried and neither is the president. Right now, I don't see anything that can happen to prevent me ending my career at Real Madrid. As I said before, I want to be at this club for a long time because it is the biggest club in the world and it has to have the best players."
Ronaldo rejected suggestions that he will take more time off to rest this season and prevent a recurrence of his knee injuries.
"I have already rested," he said, after missing Real's first three games of the season. "Now I have to play.
"I feel good. I could have played the 90 minutes without any problem."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS