Lionel Messi is aiming to claim a record-breaking fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or – but admits he faces a tough task in scooping the prize ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta.
Messi has dominated the award given to the best player in the world for the last three years, a feat that only French legend Michel Platini has achieved in the history of the prize.
Now though, the Argentinian maestro has the chance to move into a league of his own by scooping the award for a fourth straight year, something which has caused its fair amount of debate amongst his fellow players and pundits around the world.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s FIFA/FIFPro World XI team of the year in which he cast the first vote, Messi admitted he faces a tough battle if he wants to secure his place in world football history.
“It’s a great honour to win this award three times, especially to get them one after the other,” he told Fifa.com.
“After all, it’s hard enough to win this accolade in the first place and even harder to be the best player in the world for three consecutive years. I’m very happy and enjoy it as much as I did the first time.”
Messi scored a record-breaking 73 goals last season but failed to win UEFA’s Best Player in Europe award, missing out to Iniesta who secured the title thanks to his stellar performances at Euro 2012.
The winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or and the FIFA/FIFPro World XI will be announced at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala in Zurich on January 7.
Messi is currently the favourite to scoop the award, with Iniesta and Ronaldo, who helped Real Madrid win La Liga last season, just behind.