Back in 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo announced to the world that he was the best player the world had ever seen. Xavi did not agree, and said so publicly.
Shortly after his fifth Ballon d'Or success, the then-Real Madrid talisman told France Football: "I don't see anyone better than me. No player does things that I cannot do myself, but I see things others can't do."
"There's no more complete player than me," he declared. "I'm the best player in history - in the good and the bad moments."
This seemed like Ronaldo out-Ronaldo-ing himself. His immense self-confidence has so often been the deciding factor in the biggest and best moments of his career. But this was an incredible claim from the 37-year-old.
Xavi was naturally always going to sit in a different camp.
The former Spain ace spent well over a decade watching Lionel Messi's mastery at work. He felt he needed to offer a counter view.
Speaking to Tot Costa de Catalunya Ràdio, Xavi said: "Messi does more things compared to Cristiano.
"If Cristiano considers himself the best player in history, that's fine, but those of us who see him train, there is no comparison," he added. "Messi is the best in history, and we don't see it any other way."
The current Barcelona manager felt Messi's quality always comes to the fore - in a way perhaps Ronaldo's doesn't always.
"I imagine all of the managers in the world going out to stop Messi," Xavi continued.
"Even if you do what Athletic Club did, man-mark him like in the Copa del Rey final, they still come out on top. He can't be defended against.
"Messi is the difference-maker and we always tried to give the ball to him in space with time to unbalance them.
"Messi is the player that makes the most difference in the world. It's more than obvious."
The Messi versus Ronaldo will no doubt run on and on, maybe forever. But this was an extraordinary twist in the narrative. 'Self-confident' doesn't even seem to do Ronaldo's comments justice. This was just good old-fashioned hubris... and Xavi didn't seem to like it one bit.
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Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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