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The Barcelona star feels that Lionel Messi remains the best player in the world but acknowledges that his rivals on the three-man shortlist have had excellent years

Barcelona star Xavi admits that Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery both deserve the Ballon d'Or.

Blaugrana attacker Lionel Messi has dominated the award in recent years and, though the Spaniard is adamant that the 26-year-old is still the best player in the world, he feels that his team-mate could lose out this year.

"Ribery and Cristiano deserve to win the Ballon d'Or but there's no doubt that the best player now - and of all time - is Messi. In any case, I don't vote," he told reporters.

Barca were beaten 7-0 over two legs by Bayern in last season's Champions League semi-finals and Xavi is eager for revenge against the Bavarians.

"I hope that if we play each other again we can be more competitive than last year," he remarked. "Obviously we recognise that they are the favourites."

Spain defend their World Cup crown in Brazil next summer and the veteran midfielder ackowledges that the hosts will provide stiff opposition.

"We're looking forward to it," Xavi declared. "We know it will be difficult and especially against the hosts, Brazil, who are big rivals, as we saw in the Confederations Cup. We'll try to regain our title."

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