Lionel Messi believes Barcelona team-mate Luis Suarez ought to have been named on the Ballon d’Or shortlist alongside himself and Neymar, but concedes that Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo deserved his place.
Three-time winner Ronaldo prevents the shortlist from being an all-Barcelona affair, with Brazil forward Neymar also in the running alongside Messi – favourite to claim the award for a fifth time in Zurich next month after Barcelona swept the board to win La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League last season.
Messi said that the efforts of Neymar and Suarez in their phenomenal front three made the latter two players worthy of recognition but he also paid tribute to long-time rival Ronaldo, with the pair having occupied the top two places in the vote for six of the past seven years.
“I’m happy to be once again among the top three. Happy to be with Neymar,” said Messi after being named Best Player at La Liga’s annual awards ceremony.
“I’d have liked to be on [the] podium with Neymar and Luis.
“Luis Suarez deserved also to be among the top three, but do not detract from Cristiano Ronaldo, who also deserved it.”
Messi collected Best Striker along with his Best Player gong at Monday’s gala in Barcelona and he added: “I’m happy for these awards. I think after we won the titles we deserved this recognition. We’re grateful and happy.”