Dante: Ribery deserves Ballon d'Or

The Bayern Munich defender believes his French teammate has earned the prestigious accolade having helped his club to a historic treble this year.
Bayern Munich defender Dante believes there is only one candidate deserving of the Ballon d'Or award this year: his teammate Franck Ribery.

Ribery was named as one of the players on the three-man shortlist alongside Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Lionel Messi earlier this week, with the winner being revealed on January 13.

The France international helped Bayern to an unprecedented German treble in the first part of 2013 and has continued his imperious form this season too, which is enough justification for Ribery to win the accolade according to Dante.

"Ribery was and still is a very important part of our team," the Brazil international told Goal. "We won all the titles and I am firmly convinced that he deserves the Ballon d'Or. Not because he is my friend, but because of the things he has achieved and the way he has helped the team."

Dante also gave his thoughts on Champions League contenders this season. Clubs were whittled down from 32 to 16 as the final round of group stage action was completed on Wednesday.

Ahead of the draw for the last 16 on Monday, Dante knows it will not be easy to retain Europe's premier competition and believes five or six teams could well be in the mix, including Paris Saint-Germain.

"PSG has a great team with strong players and can go far in the Champions League," he added. "Five or six clubs can win the title, I think it is a tough competition and you have to turn up at the right time at the highest level to reach the final."

Ribery has already collected UEFA's Best Player in Europe this year and was named as French Player of the Year earlier in December.