Pirlo or Iniesta deserve Ballon d'Or, claims Cannavaro

The retired Italy centre-half believes that there are other candidates worthy of the coveted award, not just the popular figures of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo
Former Real Madrid defender Fabio Cannavaro has voiced his disbelief that Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo are not being considered as realistic candidates for this year's Ballon d'Or.

Three-time winner Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the favourites for the trophy, but Cannavaro believes that the process should not be confined to a two-horse race.

"I [don't think it is] between Messi and Ronaldo - I'd choose Pirlo or Iniesta," Cannavaro told reporters.

66/1 Andrea Pirlo is 66/1 with Bet365 to win the Fifa Ballon d'Or

"Iniesta is amazing with Spain and has won the last two European Championships.

"Pirlo is extraordinary, and has not only won the Scudetto with Juventus but reached the final of Euro 2012 with Italy."

As Barcelona star Messi gets closer to breaking Gerd Muller's record for goals scored in a calendar year, while Ronaldo has been in prolific form with Real Madrid during 2012, Cannavaro admits that such feats are difficult to beat.

He added: "Of course I realise that it will be difficult for them to overcome two star players like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo."