'Xavi and Lionel Messi are immense, but Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo deserves Fifa Ballon d'Or', says ex-Barcelona star Emmanuel Petit

The French World Cup-winner claims that, while Barca are the epitome of wonderful football, it is the Portuguese who deserves to be called the world's best in 2011
Former Barcelona midfielder Emmanuel Petit has claimed that Xavi and Lionel Messi should be overlooked for the 2011 Fifa Ballon d'Or award, with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo his preferred candidate for the prestigious title.

The Blaugrana won five trophies in the calendar year, with only a Copa del Rey final defeat - inflicted by a single Ronaldo goal - halting their bid to claim all six titles on offer in the last 12 months.

But, while the ex-Monaco, Arsenal and Chelsea man insists that Barca are the best team the world has to offer, he believes that Ronaldo's feats with the Spanish capital giants deserve reward.

"Xavi has redefined the position of midfield organiser," Petit told Marca. "Barca's game channels through him, and he is an immense talent. Messi brings together everything that Barca do; he is outstanding. He's a 'PlayStation player'.

"But I would go for Ronaldo, and God knows I love the other two! Madrid play in a context a little more complicated than that of Barcelona, but he has some impressive statistics."

The 26-year-old netted 53 goals in 54 games in all competitions for the Blancos in 2010-11, but his side were beaten in the semi-final of the Champions League and held to second place in La Liga, in both competitions being bettered by Barcelona.

"After being the King of England, he did not hesitate in taking the chance of a new challenge with Madrid," said Petit of the former Manchester United man.

"He has been able to assume their responsibilities fully, and may have more heading ability than Messi. But I hope that both will reach the very highest level possible with their sides."

The winner of the Ballon d'Or will be announced at a special gala in Zurich on January 9.

Starting last month and continuing all through January, Goal.com will publish extracts from Graham Hunter's highly-anticipated book, 'Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World'. In the latest extract, he looks at Pep Guardiola's early beginnings at Barca B in the Spanish third division ahead of his meteoric rise to world domination with the first team. Don't miss it!