Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed the "problem" he had with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe following his declaration that Lionel Messi should win this year's Ballon d'Or.
Earlier this month, the Argentine tactician publicly backed Messi to claim the 2021 Golden Ball ahead of the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Pochettino is one of several managers, ex-players and current professionals who believe Messi should be handed the accolade for his exploits this year, saying that even if he did not coach the 34-year-old, he would still be his favourite for the prize.
"The Ballon d'Or should go to Messi, without any doubt," he said, per the Daily Mirror.
"And if I didn't coach Messi, I would still say Messi. I answer with my heart. I always say what I feel."
In a more recent interview, however, the former Tottenham Hotspur manager admitted that he received some pushback to his comments from Neymar and Mbappe, although perhaps in a light-hearted way.
"I had a problem saying that Messi should win the Ballon d'Or," he said, according to Diario Sport.
"Neymar and Mbappe told me why not them.
"In any case, it would be great for any player from Paris to win it, but Leo deserves it."
Messi finished last season with Barcelona strongly, claiming the Copa del Rey trophy, before captaining Argentina to success at the 2021 Copa America in Brazil.
Here are what eight former and current players have said about Messi's chances of winning the Ballon d'Or this year: