Real Madrid denied Cristiano Ronaldo a sixth Ballon d'Or last year because he no longer played for the La Liga club, according to Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Ronaldo, who moved to Juve from Real in the 2018 summer transfer window, finished as the runner-up in last year's ceremony to his former Blancos team-mate Luka Modric.
This year's Ballon d'Or was won by Lionel Messi, who lifted the trophy for the sixth time to go one ahead of Ronaldo's five titles, with the Portuguese star opting to skip the ceremony in Paris to instead pick up Serie A player of the year at the Gran Gala awards.
Speaking at that ceremony in Milan, Chiellini accused the Portuguese attacker's former team of rigging the previous Ballon d'Or because they wanted one of their players to win.
However, the veteran centre-half believes Messi is a deserved winner this time around.
"It's ok that Messi has won the Ballon d'Or this year," Chiellini said. "The real theft was last year, Real Madrid decided that Cristiano should not win the Ballon d’Or. It was really strange.
"Cristiano won the Champions League, [but I suppose] by that logic Van Dijk should have won it this year.
"Maybe last year Griezmann, Pogba or Mbappe should have won for doing extraordinary things at the World Cup. Modric made no sense."
Modric won the 2017-18 Champions League with Ronaldo at Real and earned the Golden Ball at the 2018 World Cup after helping lead Croatia to the final.
During that 12-month period, he also picked up The Best FIFA men's player and UEFA men's player of the year, and was named in multiple best XI's, including at the World Cup, for UEFA and the Champions League.
However, the Croatian midfielder became the first ever Ballon d'Or winner not to be nominated for the next year's edition when the 2019 list was announced in October.
Messi won his sixth Ballon d'Or in Paris on Monday night after finishing ahead of Liverpool centre-half Virgil Van Dijk and Ronaldo on the podium.
The top 10 was rounded out by Liverpool duo Sadio Mane (fourth) and Mohamed Salah (fifth), PSG prodigy Kylian Mbappe (sixth), Reds custodian Alisson (seventh), Bayern hitman Robert Lewandowski (eighth) and Man City pair Bernardo Silva (ninth) and Riyad Mahrez (10th).