Zanetti: Messi deserves Ballon d’Or

Javier Zanetti backed Lionel Messi to reclaim the FIFA Ballon d'Or this year, hailing his countryman as the 'best player in the world'.

Speaking in an interview with FIFA.com the Argentine great expressed his belief that his former international colleague merited the award for a fourth time, while he also acknowledged German World Cup winners Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer.

"The guys who play in midfield and up front are the ones who decide games. That said, Philipp Lahm also deserved major recognition," he suggested.

"I couldn’t tell you how it's going to go, because we’re talking about three great players and they're all worthy contenders.

"I expect the voting to be very fiercely contested, and Neuer certainly deserves to be in the mix too.

"I'm hoping that Messi wins it – he's a true great. He never stops surprising people.

"At any given moment he's capable of improvising with a touch of skill or something spectacular that can win you a game.

"In my view, he’s the best player in the world."

The Inter legend then backed another compatriot of his, Diego Simeone, in the running for the FIFA Coach of the Year.

"El Cholo [Simeone] was always like a Coach out on the pitch," Zanetti added.

"I'm not surprised by what he’s achieving, which has come on the back of sacrifice and hard work.

"With respect to [Carlo] Ancelotti and [Joachim] Low, I think that he's done enough with Atletico to take home the top prize."

Tags Ballon d'Or Diego Simeone FIFA World Coach of the Year Javier Zanetti Lionel Messi