Juventus coach Antonio Conte has endorsed midfielder Andrea Pirlo for the game’s highest individual honour – the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Pirlo has been shortlisted for the award, for which voting has been extended – culminating on November 29 ahead of the announcement on January 13 in Zurich.
The 34-year-old has helped Juve to back-to-back Serie A titles of late, and was also a World Cup winner in 2006, and Conte believes the veteran should outdo hot favourites Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
“It is difficult to choose between Messi and Ronaldo, but I would always give the Ballon d’Or to Pirlo,” Conte told Verissimo.
“He is our player and may God keep him safe.”
Pirlo has recently been linked with a switch to Real Madrid, although Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has dismissed making a play for the Italian when his contract at Juventus Stadium expires in mid-2014.
Ancelotti coached Pirlo at Milan as they won the UEFA Champions League title twice for the San Siro club.