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The former Spain left-back played with the Barcelona man at the 2006 World Cup, and he believes the gifted midfielder should have been nominated for the accolade

Mariano Pernia claims Andres Iniesta should win the 2012 Fifa Ballon d'Or, ahead of current favourite and club-mate Lionel Messi.

The Barcelona midfielder was crowned Uefa Best Player in Europe for 2011-12, but is out of the running for the global edition of the award, with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi making the final three-man shortlist.

However, in the eyes of the former Atletico Madrid and Spain defender, who represented his adopted country at the 2006 World Cup, having been born in Buenos Aires, it is his ex-colleague Iniesta who is most worthy of winning the Ballon d'Or.

"For me, Iniesta deserves it," Pernia told Sport. "He is an amazing player, I met him in the Spanish camp and he is a most excellent player, a special person and a top professional.

"Lionel Messi is from another galaxy, but he's already won it twice."

Iniesta enjoyed a trophy-laden 2012, winning the Copa del Rey with Barcelona, and Euro 2012 with his country.