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The experienced Spain international believes the Argentine forward is the best player in the game, and also gave his take on youth academies

Andres Iniesta feels that his Barcelona team-mate and fellow Ballon d'Or nominee Lionel Messi deserves to land the award above all other contenders.

The Argentine netted his 76th goal of 2012 during the trip to Mallorca on Sunday, breaking Pele's personal record for the most goals scored in one calendar year, putting him in second place behind Bayern Munich legend Gerd Muller, who notched 85 goals in 1972.

And Iniesta has no doubts over who is the greatest player in the game, but also believes that Messi's biggest rival for the prestigious trophy, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, should be saluted.

"Leo is the number one. After that, people vote for whoever they see fit," the 28-year-old was quoted as saying by AS.

"Not just for his goals, but for his overall play. He has a huge impact on the team, he is unique and decisive, and that's why he beats all the records.

"What makes the people of Barcelona happy is that there is still a lot to come.

"Cristiano is one of the big contenders for this award, and all individual prizes."

Iniesta went on to say that the reason for his success at Camp Nou is the faith the club show in the youth academy.

"Every club is different. I've been lucky enough to be where I am, and the most important thing is that people believe in the academy. If not, it's not worthwhile."

Barcelona currently sit atop of La Liga, with a three-point advantage over Atletico Madrid. They meet Real Zaragoza at Camp Nou on November 17.

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