The Ballon d'Or - the prize all footballers dream of and the award that only a select few can win.

For Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery however, the prestigious prize is only one step away.

Three players, one award - who deserves it the most this year?

Lionel Messi

What can you say about the Argentine mastermind. Ever since he stepped onto the scene in 2003 he was destined for greatness; comparisons were even made to Diego Maradona, the former kingpin of Argentinian football.

As the years have gone on it is apparent that he has certainly lived up to the expectations that were set out for him when he first started his career at the Catalan club by winning the Ballon d'Or a staggering four times.

2013 however was a mixed bag for Leo, as brilliant performances also came bundled with a long spell out on the sidelines - a period where he had to watch his teammates play without him.

This didn't stop him from scoring an outstanding 45 goals in 46 appearances though, a feat not many other players can match except for his main Portuguese rival Cristiano Ronaldo. He also won two trophies with Barcelona in 2013, the La Liga trophy as well as the Spanish Super Cup.

Although this calendar year may not have been so fruitful as previous ones for Leo, he still showed the world why many consider him as the best player in the world; as 45 goals in 46 games is evidence enough for him sealing a place in the shortlist.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The man who has shown the most hunger for goals and top performances in 2013. Called arrogant by many; the Real Madrid winger has shown how much being the best means to him but putting in one of the best performances by an individual in 2013.

Ronaldo, having won the World Player of the Year award once before, netted a magnificent 69 goals in 60 appearances including 8 hattricks surpassing his goalscoring performances in previous years.

Arguably the more complete footballer; Ronaldo's determined attitude to winning and desire to be the best may just guide the Ballon d'Or award his way, even though the Los Blancos winger only managed to win one trophy in the whole of 2013 with his club.

If individual statistics are looked at then Cristiano Ronaldo easily surpasses his rivals but if overall team  performance is a factor, then whether Cristiano deserves it as a whole can come into question.

Franck Ribery

Last but not least, the French wizard is the dark horse of the shortlist. Overlooked in previous campaigns, Ribery has really shined in 2013 for Bavarian side Bayern Munich, leading them to winning a mammoth five trophies in the calendar year - the most they could possibly win. 

Ribery was a key part of this unbeatable Bayern Munich side, having scored 22 goals and provided a handful of assists for his teammates - Munich only having lost three games when Ribery was on the pitch.

He was also very dangerous against most of the sides that he has played against, proving to be a constant threat; whether it be scoring them himself or setting up a teammate, Ribery has shown that he can completely turn games around when he's on the field. 

Although his goal tally may not be as impressive as his counterparts, Franck Ribery has already shown that his contributions are noticed as he has already won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award for 2013, which could possibly be a stepping stone to winning the most prestigious prize in football: The Ballon D'or. 

So, who deserves to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or?

In my opinion, it is between Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery. Though Lionel Messi has still put in a top performance for the most of 2013, his two-month injury dealt a severe blow to his Ballon d'Or chances; albeit unluckily.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribery however have both excelled in different departments, Ronaldo excelling in the individual performance department and Ribery having put in a brilliant individual performance along with being part of an astonishing team that won everything that there is to be won.

In the end, the winner of the coveted award depends on what FIFA value more: individual brilliance or overall success.

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