Yaya Toure says Lionel Messi would always get his vote for the Ballon d’Or ahead of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Both Messi and current holder Ronaldo have been named on FIFA’s 23-man shortlist for the 2015 prize, along with Manchester City midfielder Toure.
While he admits giving two awards every year would make the decision easier, Toure has explained why he thinks his former Barcelona team-mate deserves it every time.
“While Cristiano Ronaldo has had another exceptional year, I’d always vote for Lionel Messi. Not only because there’s a great respect between us from my time at Barca, but also because I think Leo is above the rest,” he said to France Football.
“In fact, ideally, with these two monsters there, they should give two Ballons d’Or every year!”
Toure has been handed his fifth Ballon d’Or nomination and his fourth in consecutive seasons, but the Ivory Coast international admits there are regrets over his final placing in the voting in the past.
The 32-year-old believes he deserves to have challenged for a place in the top five, especially in 2009 – when Barcelona claimed six trophies in a calendar year – and in 2014, when City last lifted the Premier League title.
“It’s a pleasure every time. It’s a great barometer of the level you’ve reached. To stay on this list, you have to work really, really hard. It’s impossible otherwise, it’s the same for Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi,” Toure said. “To be part of this elite is not only recognition of my consistency but also of my work.
“I think I deserved better at times. I think I could have finished at least once in the top five but, unfortunately, I’ve been a long way off each time.
“Especially in 2009, and in 2014, I had the trophies and the statistics necessary to think about doing well.
“I admit it’s pretty frustrating. I could have shouted my frustration from the rooftops like [Samuel] Eto’o has done a bit before. But this isn’t the way I operate. I’ve never felt like they victimise me.”
Toure, the only African on this year’s shortlist, acknowledges that more players from the continent should be forcing their way into the reckoning – though he accepts it is hard to live up to the standards set in recent years by the likes of former Chelsea star Didier Drogba and ex-Barca man Eto’o.
“I know that it’s tough to find successors to Didier Drogba or Samuel Eto’o, who set the bar very, very high,” he added.
“But we should perhaps give a bit more attention to Africans in these kind of circumstances.”
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