Lionel Messi believes Andres Iniesta deserves to win the Ballon d'Or following Barcelona's 2-1 Liga win over Betis on Sunday.
The forward's double against the Andalusians saw him further his scoring tally to 86 for 2012 and break Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a calendar year.
But despite surpassing the German, Messi opted to praise his team-mate and says he fully merits claiming the prestigious individual accolade on the grounds of his contribution to the Blaugrana cause.
"I would not mind giving the Ballon d'Or to Andres," the 25-year-old told reporters. "He deserves it for how well he and the team are doing."
Messi's second goal also proved vital in the context of the match at the Benito Villamarin, as Ruben Castro scored a consolation for Betis, and he believes the victory was more important than breaking Muller's milestone.
"As it is often said, it is very nice to beat [Muller's] record, but the important thing is maintaining a gap ahead of our rivals," he added.
"It was very hard to come here. Betis are doing well in the league so it was a very important victory."
With another four games remaining before the turn of the year, there is still time for Messi to extend his own goalscoring tally and he cheekily admits he would like to put further distance between him and Muller's old record.
"I will try to score some more goals, if I can, to make the record a little bit harder to break for the next player trying to break it. But on a serious note I just want to continue this way," he explained.
"I'm just happy to play after the scare the other day, obviously it is a joy, it's a wonderful record to be in possession of."