Barcelona midfielder Xavi has conceded that Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win the Ballon d'Or this season - alongside Franck Ribery.
Both Ronaldo and Ribery have been named alongside Lionel Messi as the three finalists for the prestigious award which is handed out next month.
Messi has won the award for the last four seasons - a feat never achieved in the history of the game - but is unlikely to hold on to his crown following an injury-hit 2013.
Ronaldo meanwhile has been in superb form as ever over the last 12 months, and is the top scorer in the Champions League this term. He also helped Portugal qualify for the World Cup with a stunning hat-trick in his country's play-off against Sweden.
Xavi, a regular candidate for the Ballon d'Or in the past, conceded that this could well be the Real Madrid superstar's year - although he remains adamant that his Barcelona team-mate is the best in the world.
"Ribery and Cristiano deserve to win the Ballon d'Or but there's no doubt that the best player now - and of all time - is Messi. In any case, I don't vote," he told reporters.
Under new boss Tata Martino, Barcelona have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, while they also currently sit top of La Liga.
Xavi says his club are hoping to make amends for their 7-0 aggregate thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League this season.
"I hope that if we play each other again we can be more competitive than last year," he remarked. "Obviously we recognise that they are the favourites."
The veteran Spain star added of his country's campaign to defend their world crown in Brazil next summer: "We're looking forward to it. "We know it will be difficult and especially against the hosts, Brazil, who are big rivals, as we saw in the Confederations Cup. We'll try to regain our title."
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