ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI has been forced to deny a brewing rift with Lionel Messi following last week's Ballon d'Or controversy.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar, 34, picked up the most-prestigious individual prize in football for an incredible seventh time last week.
Messi's latest gong came 12 months after the award was scrapped for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Frustratingly for Lewandowski, the Polish star had enjoyed a sensational year and appeared to be a shoo-in for the gong.
After winning the 2021 award, Messi claimed the Bayern Munich striker should be given the award for the missed year.
Lewandowksi, 33, was initially claimed to have called Messi's kind gesture 'empty words'.
But the Bundesliga hotshot has now refuted those claims – calling it a 'misinterpretation'.
Lewandowski said: "My statement, which I made in an interview with a Polish TV / Via Play broadcaster, is currently being misinterpreted.
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"I never say that Lionel Messi's words were not sincere.
"On the contrary: Lionel Messi's speech at the event in Paris, in which he expressed that, in his opinion, I deserved the Ballon d’Or 2020, really touched me and made me happy.
"With my statement, I just wanted to express that I would of course be very happy if Messi's words were heard.
"I respect and appreciate Lionel Messi beyond measure and once again congratulate him on winning the Ballon d’Or 2021."
During the ceremony, Messi had said: “Robert, you deserve your Ballon d’Or. Last year, everyone was in agreement to say that you were the big winner of this award.
“Hopefully France Football will give you the 2020 Ballon d’Or. We all believe you deserved it and I hope you can have it at home.”
After the ceremony, Lewandowski's agent and Patrice Evra slammed the Bayern star's snub – along with hoards of fans.
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