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Pirlo or Iniesta deserve Ballon d'Or, claims Cannavaro

The former Italy center back believes that there are other candidates worthy of the coveted award, not just the popular choices of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Former Real Madrid and Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro has voiced his disbelief that Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo are not being considered as realistic candidates for this year's FIFA Ballon d'Or.

Three-time winner Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the favorites for the trophy, but Cannavaro believes that the process should not be a two-horse race. As Messi gets closer to breaking Gerd Muller's record for goals scored in a calendar year and Ronaldo has been in prolific form with Real Madrid in 2012, Cannavaro admits that such feats are difficult to beat, though.

"Of course I realize that it will be difficult for them to overcome two star players like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo," Cannavaro told reporters. "I [don't think the race should be] between Messi and Ronaldo - I'd choose Pirlo or Iniesta. Iniesta is amazing with Spain and has won the last two European Championships. Pirlo is extraordinary, and has not only won the Scudetto with Juventus but reached the final of Euro 2012 with Italy."

Cannavaro himself was FIFA's World Player of the Year in 2006 after helping Italy to the World Cup championship.

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