Conte: I would give the Ballon d'Or to Pirlo

The Bianconeri boss insists the Italy playmaker deserves to win the prestigious prize, despite the record-breaking exploits of leading candidate Lionel Messi
Juventus coach Antonio Conte believes Andrea Pirlo should be given the Ballon d'Or this year.

The 33-year-old put in an inspired performance in his side's 3-0 win over Atalanta on Sunday, scoring a stunning free-kick in the process, and his boss is under no illusions as to who should be crowned the best player in the world.

"Even if Messi had scored thousands of goals, I would give the Ballon d'Or to Pirlo," Conte told reporters after the match.

"Then, I would have the pleasure of being the coach of a Golden Ball [winner]. Maybe in the future I will."

Pirlo was at the heart of his side's ruthless performance at the weekend, with the victory moving them seven points clear at the top of  Serie A after Inter's defeat to Lazio.

The former AC Milan midfielder was named on the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or prize earlier this year, but missed out on a place in the top three nominations to Andres Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.