Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images Messi has backed his Barcelona teammates to win the Ballon d'Or.

Messi endorses team-mates for Ballon d'Or

The Argentinian attacker believes both Andres Iniesta and Xavi deserve the prestigious accolade.

LIONEL MESSI IS hopeful that a Barcelona player will win the 2012 Ballon d’Or, saying both Andres Iniesta and Xavi deserve the award.

The Argentine netted an impressive 73 goals in all competitions in 2011-12, but he feels his team-mates are just as deserving to win the prestigious individual honour because of their exploits at Euro 2012.

“There’s still a long way to go before we know the winner of the Ballon d’Or. We don’t even know the nominees yet. Those who are in charge of it will have to decide who wins it,” Messi said at a press conference.

“I would like it if the Ballon d’Or remains in the Barca dressing-room. Hopefully, Iniesta or Xavi can win the award. They would deserve it for everything they’ve done in recent years and at Euro 2012.

“The more Barcelona players are nominated for the Ballon d’Or, the better it is for the club.”

Messi won the last three editions of the Ballon d’Or. Iniesta came second in 2010, while Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo finished as runner-up in 2011.

The attacking star said Barcelona have set their sights on reclaiming the Champions League and La Liga titles under new manager Tito Vilanova.

“I am very happy that he is in charge,” Messi said.

“I know Tito, I know how he works and I am happy that he will be in charge of the first team.

“We know that each year becomes more difficult and unfortunately I am still upset and annoyed at having lost the Champions League semi-final to Chelsea last season.

“It was also difficult in La Liga when we had the chance to reduce the gap between Real Madrid and ourselves in El Clasico meeting at the Nou Camp, but we didn’t take it and lost.

“Our aim this season is to win both trophies.”

Messi won an Olympic gold medal at the Beijing Games four years ago, but will not compete at London 2012 after Argentina failed to qualify.

“It’s a shame that Argentina will not be competing at the Olympics Games football tournament,” he said.

“I have experienced it before and it is wonderful.

“In the last two Olympics, Argentina have been crowned champions and it is a shame that we are not participating this time around but there is nothing we can now do about that.”

Read: Dempsey ‘deal’ leaves Liverpool red faced>

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