Barcelona defender Jordi Alba insists that Lionel Messi remains the best in the world, even if he does not win the 2013 Ballon d'Or.
The Blaugrana talisman and four-time winner of FIFA's prestigious individual prize is seen as third favourite by many to win the 2013 award, behind Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery.
Alba, however, believes his team-mate should be considered the finest player in the modern game irrespective of who claims the prize in January.
"I don't know who will win the Ballon d'Or but I don't care, Lionel is still the best in the world," the 24-year-old told reporters.
Recent reports have surfaced suggesting the Argentine is unhappy at Camp Nou due to differences between the attacker and club director Javier Faus.
However, Alba dismissed speculation that Messi is considering a move away, stating: "He is calm and happy at Barcelona, and we hope to have him back [from injury] soon."
The Catalans have struggled at times during the year due to Messi's persistent absences through injury, with his latest hamstring problem requiring him to return to his native Argentina for treatment.
Alba, however, believes the team are still in the hunt for silverware under coach Gerardo Martino.
"Maybe we have not been at our best, but we are still first in the league, qualified top of our Champions League group and progressed to the next round of the Copa del Rey," he concluded.