Ronaldo & Messi deserve Ballon d'Or less than Ribery

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It's six years since a player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo won the most coveted individual accolade in football: the Ballon d'Or.

Kaka picked up the award in 2007 after a stellar season with AC Milan, while Ronaldo won it 12 months later after inspiring Manchester United to glory in the Champions League.

Since then, for the last four years in a row, the Ballon d'Or - rebranded as the FIFA Ballon d'Or in 2010 - has been won by Barcelona superstar Messi.

Despite this dominance, few would argue - with the possible exception of Ronaldo, of course - that Messi deserved to win the Ballon d'Or between 2009-2013.

The Argentina international stands a decent chance of winning an unprecedented fifth successive Ballon d'Or, but neither he nor Ronaldo would be the worthiest winner this time around, despite their respective otherworldly goalscoring records.

When the glitzy ceremony takes place in January, the most deserving player of the 2013 Ballon d'Or will be Franck Ribery, who played such a crucial role in Bayern Munich's historic treble success last season.

The Frenchman himself admitted in the summer that it's "now or never" for him to claim football's grand prize, while Real Madrid assistant Zinedine Zidane backed his compatriot to win the award - a move which didn't go down well in the Spanish capital.

Zidane, too, is a Ballon d'Or winner. The former France international was not the top scorer during the 1997/98 campaign, but he claimed the main prize thanks largely to his headed brace against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup.

He empathises with Ribery - and Ronaldo, too - but accepts that Messi may well be favourite to win the award because of his phenomenal goalscoring exploits.

Messi scored 60 goals in 50 matches last season, while Ronaldo netted 55 goals in 55 matches. Both incredible, but hardly surprising. They've been doing this for the past three seasons.

Admittedly it is hard to overlook the world's two best players - and they are undoubtedly the world's two best players - for the 2013 Ballon d'Or.

But after scoring 11 goals in 43 matches, providing more than 20 assists, winning four trophies over the course of 2013 and picking up UEFA's Best Player in Europe award a few months ago, Ribery would be the most worthy recipient.

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Franck Ribery
Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo
Bayern Munich

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