Lionel Messi won a record-breaking seventh Ballon d'Or trophy on Monday night.
Having previously won France Football's prestigious prize in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019, Messi moved even further clear of Cristiano Ronaldo with his latest triumph this year.
It now seems highly unlikely that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar will have his tally of seven Ballon d'Or trophies surpassed any time soon now that Ronaldo is trailing on 'only' five plaques.
Messi wins 7th Ballon d'Or
However, despite many fans and pundits opining that Messi was the rightful winner, there's no denying that his 2021 victory was one of the hardest-fought on his record of Ballon d'Or victories.
After all, Robert Lewandowski was breathing down Messi's neck to such an extent that the Bayern Munich striker has actually been the bookmaker's favourite to scoop FIFA's 'The Best' award.
And for all the big names to have backed the decision to garland Messi, there have been an equal amount of revered figures who think that Lewandowski or another candidate were more deserving.
Chelsea 1-1 Man Utd Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Kroos criticises Messi victory
Iker Casillas and Piers Morgan are just two people to have rained on Messi's parade and now Real Madrid's Toni Kroos has offered his two cents by claiming that 34-year-old wasn't the rightful winner.
"It's absolutely not deserved," Kroos said. "There is no doubt that Messi, with Cristiano [Ronaldo], has been the player of the last decade, but this year there should've been others ahead of him."
The German added: "For me, Karim would have been the number one if you were really looking for the best individual player of the last year, because I can see from close quarters what an outstanding footballer he is.
"When I see how many decisive goals Cristiano has scored lately - Manchester United are still in the Champions League thanks to him alone - then, in my eyes, Cristiano would have also come before Messi."
And according to the Daily Mail, Kroos went as far as confirming that his personal top three for the Ballon d'Or would have been Benzema, Ronaldo and Jorginho with Messi nowhere to be seen.
Kroos backs Benzema and Ronaldo
Kroos isn't afraid to speak his mind on these topics and it couldn't have been clearer that the World Cup winner had a problem with Messi being named as the finest male footballer of 2021.
Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that Kroos would back Ronaldo and Benzema given their shared Real history, but it's not as though the German just lamely dangled his opinion out there.
Rather, Kroos wasn't afraid to brand Messi as only the world's fourth-best player at most in 2021 and he isn't alone in what will surely endure as one of the most controversial Ballon d'Or wins in history.
Whether Kroos likes it or not, though, the simple fact of the matter is that Messi has surely now won the Ballon d'Or battle between himself and his old Real Madrid adversary. Sorry, Toni.News Now - Sport News