Xavi rubbishes Ronaldo's Ballon d'Or bid: He wouldn't even be in my top three

The midfielder does not see why the Real Madrid forward should win the award given his failure to lead Portugal out of the World Cup group stage
Xavi has questioned Cristiano Ronaldo's status as the favourite to win the Ballon d'Or, pointing out the Portugal star "did not do much at the World Cup" and revealing he would not even have the Real Madrid ace in his top three.

The attacker won the award for 2013 and is widely expected to retain his title after a year in which he fired Los Blancos to Champions League glory and played a key role in the Spanish side's remarkable run of 23 straight victories in all competitions.

However, Barcelona icon Xavi does not believe the 29-year-old would be worthy winner after a Ronaldo-led Portugal suffered a dismal first-round elimination in Brazil, while Ballon d'Or rivals Manuel Neuer and Lionel Messi both featured in the final, for Germany and Argentina, respectively.

"He didn't do much in the World Cup, and in a World Cup year, the season is defined by that," the former Spain international said of Ronaldo in an interview with Sport.

"[In first place I would have] Leo, second Philipp Lahm, and third Javier Mascherano."

Xavi also rubbished the suggestion that Messi holds more power in the Barca dressing room than coach Luis Enrique after an allegation that the No.10 refused to be substituted in a match against Eibar in October.

"This image of Messi is totally false," the playmaker declared. "I think it's great that people can talk and say what they want, but this is a lie.

"Messi never imposes himself on the team. This squad agrees on everything.

"Obviously Leo has great importance within the team, but I have never seen Leo telling Luis Enrique what he wants. I just cannot see it happening. It's unthinkable."

Xavi also dismissed reports that Messi is unsettled at Barcelona, with the Argentine having caused panic in Catalunya by stating in November that he might not stay at Camp Nou.

"He is happier than ever," the veteran midfielder stated. "He's the best player in the world and we have to live with this kind of news. But I see him happy and content.

"It's very different from last year when suffered an injury that put him on the sidelines for two months with the World Cup on the horizon. It would not have been an easy year for anyone.

"But this season we are seeing the best Messi."

Meanwhile, Xavi voiced his support for Luis Suarez, who joined Barca from Liverpool for €94 million during the summer.

The Uruguay international was unable to make his debut until October 25 because of a four-month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup and he initially struggled for goals.

However, Suarez ended his La Liga drought in the 5-0 win over Cordoba at the weekend and Xavi is now expecting the striker to go from strength to strength.

"He has goals in his blood," the 34-year-old added. "He will start scoring more and more.

"The killer instinct he has reminds me a bit of Samuel Eto'o. He has that nastiness, that personality, that persistence.

"It was very unfair [that he did not get nominated for the Ballon d'Or list of 23]. He was punished for something that he had already been suspended for. But that should not have detracted from his sporting merit."