The Swedish superstar was replaced by another famous offensive player and was replaced by two-time World Cup winner Ronaldo Nazario.
Messi won the record seventh Ballon d’Or after another stellar year in 2021, going two ahead of CR7’s total of five golden balls.
The duo have been the two best players for more than 10 years in a row and have won big prizes awarded in the game.
But despite praise for Messi’s attitude towards the game, the Swedes echoed that Robert Lewandowski should have taken the prize this year.
Ibrahimovic saw Messi’s talent first hand in his one season at Camp Nou, but the Brazilian is ahead of the Argentine diminutive when he is pushed to say he believes Ronaldo is the greatest player of all time.
“Both are very strong, I would say Messi since we played together.
“The Ronaldo phenomenon. As a child I imitated him.”
Ronaldo has certainly been a strong case since scoring 62 goals in 98 caps for his country – which included a brace for a 2-0 win over Germany in the 2002 World Cup final, and was part of the team that won the tournament in 1994.
Ronaldo sits second on the all-time list of top scorers in competition with 15 strikes in 19 appearances – one behind Miroslav Klose, who has played five more games than the Brazilian.
He won the Ballon d’Or twice in 1997 and 2002 and won the Best FIFA Men’s Player award in 1996, 1997 and 2002.
His list of honors at the club level is impressive, including two La Liga titles with Barcelona and the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan.