Barcelona's Javier Mascherano has rubbished Jose Mourinho's claim that Lionel Messi's record-breaking 50-goal haul in the Primera Division this season counts for nothing because the Blaugrana did not win La Liga, claiming that it is the Real Madrid's boss words which are without value.
The Blancos coach claimed on Tuesday that Cristiano Ronaldo deserves the Ballon d'Or as his 46 Primera Division strikes played an integral role in the club's title success.
However, Mascherano believes that Messi must be considered a shoo-in for his fourth successive Ballon d'Or given he has scored 72 goals in all competitions this term.
"I don't value Mourinho's words," he told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday. "I have nothing to say.
"Last year the 40 goals scored by Ronaldo were worth something [according to Mourinho] and this year the 50 scored by Messi are worthless?
"People can say what they like. For me it has merit, because we have won three titles, which is a lot.
"Leo deserves to win [the Ballon d'Or] because he has achieved a tally not seen since the 1930s.
"We're talking about a guy who has broken a record 70 or 80 years old. What better reward can he have than the Ballon d'Or?"
Mascherano also addressed the recent speculation surrounding the future of defender Dani Alves, arguing that Barca simply cannot afford to lose the Brazil international.
"He is the best right-back in the world," the Argentine enthused. "I say this because of everything he gives the team, not only in terms of his goals and assists, but also his character, which influences everyone else in the group."
Mascherano also backed the Blaugrana's decision to select current assistant coach Tito Vilanova to succeed Pep Guardiola as boss this summer.
"Tito means continuity," he argued. "It's the least traumatic switch; the best thing after the exit of such a successful coach like Pep."
Guardiola will take charge of Barca for the last time on May 25 when the Catalans take on Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey.