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The French legend praised the diminutive attacker but was non-committal when asked if the 24-year-old can become the best player in the history of world football

EXCLUSIVE
By Rafael Corradino

Uefa president Michel Platini says that Barcelona star Lionel Messi fully deserved to win the 2011 Fifa Ballon d'Or award.

Messi has emulated Platini in winning the prestigious accolade for the third
successive year after beating Barca team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

"The Ballon d'Or is something special," Platini told Goal.com. "It is subjective, but there are criteria.

"The fact that we have given three trophies to a boy like him [Messi] is logical because he does splendid things.

"As I have said, he is helped by an exceptional group like Barca's."

The Uefa official, though, was coy when
asked if Messi could become the best player in the history of the game.

"Let him finish his career," he added. "When Ronaldinho won his Ballon d'Or [in 2005] award, I said that he would win many more, but he never did it again."

Starting in November and continuing through January, Goal.com is publishing exclusive extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated new book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. Last Friday's extract took a closer look at the most influential figure in the club's history: Johan Cruyff: Don't miss it!

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