Luka Modric rubbished suggestions his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo has become strained and asserted he will never be Lionel Messi's team-mate.
Real Madrid midfielder Modric is a leading contender to end the star pair's decade-long dominance of the Ballon d'Or after a sparkling season for club and country.
The 33-year-old won the Champions League for a third straight year alongside Ronaldo and later saw off Messi's Argentina on the way to reaching the World Cup final with Croatia.
Modric has already secured FIFA's The Best award from former team-mate Ronaldo, who is now at Juventus, but insists they remain on "excellent" terms despite the competition for individual honours.
"We spent six wonderful years in Madrid where we developed a friendship and mutual respect," Modric told France Football.
"Now he is gone and we keep in touch, sending messages. And although some people are trying to say that this is not the case, I can say that we are still maintaining good relations."
Messi appears a slight outsider to claim a sixth Ballon d'Or after finishing fifth in the voting for The Best.
Modric overlooked his LaLiga rival upon naming the players he would most like to partner on the pitch, before revealing a simple reason for the snub.
"I play against him, not with him," the Madrid man said.
"Obviously, Messi is one of the best players in history, but I will never play with him."
Modric and Messi are due to meet when Barcelona host El Clasico on October 28.
16 de enero 2019
|Kyrgyzstan 3 Philippines 1: Lux hat-trick gives White Falcons third-place hope|
|South Korea 2 China 0: Son sets the standard as Bento´s men take top spot|
|Saudi Arabia v Qatar: Top spot on the line in Group E|
|Wasps pull off Fekitoa coup|
|Fresh injury woe for Real Madrid defender Vallejo|
|Home sweet home for Wozniacki as Stephens conquers Melbourne demons|
|Nadal: Victory over Ebden a step forward|
|Proteas rest Steyn and De Kock for opening ODIs|
|Nadal and Federer march on as rising stars prosper|
|Barcelona president Bartomeu convinced Valverde will stay|
|Inter forward Keita suffers thigh injury|
|Nadal races into third round with easy Ebden win|
|Kimmich ´perfect´ for Barcelona, says Xavi|
|Richardson and Nabi inspire Renegades´ rout of Sixers|
|This Liverpool isn´t a team of chokers – Mane|
|Central Coast Mariners 2 Melbourne City 1: Late Simon winner ends 10-match losing streak|
|Bryan backs Murray to return after hip resurfacing surgery|
|Scotland coach Townsend turns to trio of uncapped hookers|
|Spurs´ Aurier arrested on suspicion of assault, released without charge|
|That was a fireworks show - Warriors revel in record-breaking first quarter|
|We are in talks with Chelsea – Salihamidzic reiterates interest in Hudson-Odoi|
|´Proud´ Messi recognises impact of team-mates after reaching 400 LaLiga goals|
|Henry v Vieira: The Arsene Wenger proteges to move into coaching|
|Federer enjoys ´cat and mouse´ win over Evans|
|Wozniacki cruises through in Melbourne|
|Federer maintains perfect Australian Open second-round record|
|Warriors set NBA record, Butler´s 76ers rout Timberwolves|
|´I like the fact we beat them´ - 76ers´ Butler revels in win over Timberwolves|
|Murray says he´ll ´probably´ have operation|
|Australian Open tribute for Andy Murray surprises brother Jamie|
|Warriors score NBA record 51 points in first quarter against Nuggets|
|Panthers owner Tepper doesn´t rule out Newton missing 2019 because of shoulder injury|
|De Ligt will be world´s best centre-back – Koeman|
|Ronaldo a ´perfect machine´, says Gattuso|
|Barcelona? I can´t say anything - Stuani|
|Silva upbeat about Man City title chances|
|Celtics youngsters say Irving´s callout ´came from a good place´|
|NFL playoffs: Patrick Mahomes v Tom Brady|
|NFL playoffs: Jared Goff v Drew Brees|
|Sixers sign Brewer to 10-day contract|
|Lozano and Morgan scoop CONCACAF awards|
|Lakers ´optimistic´ about LeBron injury|
|Giants produce mammoth fourth quarter against Nymburk|
|Austin FC to join MLS in 2021|
15 de enero 2019
|Henry, Vieira look forward to reunion when Monaco host Nice|
|Barcelona reject Neymar phone call reports|
|Wentz is the quarterback ´going forward´, says Eagles coach Pederson|
|Gattuso: Higuain has not asked to leave|
|Drew Brees by the Opta numbers: 10 facts for QB´s milestone birthday|
|Harry Kane injury: England captain´s history of ankle woe|
|Harry Kane injury: Opta numbers suggest Spurs struggles|
|Harry Kane injury: Tottenham´s options in striker´s absence|
|Allegri: Supercoppa clash practice for Champions League knockouts|
|First in clean sheets, second to Schmeichel in titles – Cech´s Premier League career in Opta numbers|
|Warrington sign England star Widdop|
|Gatland confident Wales can win Six Nations|
|Fulham sign Netherlands international Babel|
|Harry Kane injury: Games the Tottenham striker will miss|
|Simeone focused on matches, not transfer dealings|
|Iran v Iraq: Pressure off for Queiroz & Katanec|
|Vietnam v Yemen: Kocian keeps the faith|
|Darren Bravo back in West Indies Test side for first time since 2016|
|Kane out until March with ankle injury|
|South Korea v China: Son arrives for Group C dead rubber|
|Kyrgyzstan v Philippines: Eriksson remains hopeful|
|McGrath to miss Six Nations, Sexton nearing fitness|
|Kohli savours Dhoni ´classic´|
|Ford: People obsess over Farrell fly-half battle|
|EFL asks Leeds to explain ´spygate´ scandal|
|No alarms for Djokovic and Zverev, Raonic masters Kyrgios|