Luis Figo believes there's nothing to stop Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo from claiming the FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy this year, ahead of three-time winner and 2012 favourite, Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

The Portuguese legend says his compatriot is more than deserving of the honour, highlighting his excellent performances for both club and country over the past 12 months.

"There's nothing to stop [Ronaldo] from winning it," Figo told Mundo Deportivo. "He is one of the favourites to win all the individual trophies there are.

"Even more so this year, because I think he had a good season in the league, and did well at the Euros.

"[But] there are a lot of people involved in the choice, so it is always difficult to know who will win."

Messi and Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta complete the three-man shortlist this year alongside Ronaldo - whittled down from an initial 23 - marking one of the strongest ever registers of candidates for the prestigious individual award.

However, Figo suggests that the Ballon d'Or is actually easier to win now than when he claimed the prize back in 2000.

"It was one of the most special moments in my career on the individual side of things, because there are few players who have the opportunity to win this trophy," he continued.

"At the time, there were lots of players who were in with a shout, whilst now there are four or five big candidates. It was a privilege and a proud moment for me."

National coaches, captains and selected journalists will be tasked with voting for the winner of the FIFA crown with the selected player set to be presented at the Zurich Kongresshaus on January 7, 2013.

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