Monday’s official announcement confirmed what many in the world of football had been expecting: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery are the final three names in contention for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013, which will be handed out on January 13 at the FIFA Gala in Zurich.
With that in mind, FIFA.com reviewed a selection of recent interviews and compiled the opinions of different personalities with regard to the million-dollar question: who should win this year's prize?
"I’m a big Cristiano Ronaldo fan. I’ve watched him over the years and I met him when he was at Manchester United, so I would definitely go with Cristiano Ronaldo."
Usain Bolt, Jamaican sprinter, winner of six Olympic gold medals and world-record holder at both 100 and 200 metres, on a visit to the Home of FIFA.
"Franck (Ribery) has had an incredible season. He deserves the prize."
Pep Guardiola, coach of Bayern Munich.
“My favourite for the Ballon d’Or this year is Messi. The reason? Simply because he’s an extraordinary player.”
Brazilian Ronaldo, a three-time winner of the FIFA World Player award, in an exclusive chat with FIFA.com.
"This season I’d vote for Cristiano Ronaldo. What he's doing is impressive – and he is very consistent. He's going for his fifth or sixth season with 50 goals a year.”
Mamadou Sakho, France and Liverpool defender.
“Messi. Simply because he’s an incredible player.”
Former England striker Michael Owen on his visit to FIFA.
“Ribery is surely one of the best players in the world and the best of all over the last year. Without him, Bayern wouldn't have won the treble - one or two
trophies perhaps, but not all three. Franck Ribery made a huge
contribution, so I cross my fingers that he'll win the award.”
Franz Beckenbauer, World Cup winner in 1974 with West Germany and honorary president of Bayern Munich.
"Being Portuguese, my vote would go to Cristiano, even though Messi is a tremendous player. It’s an honour to be able to call upon a player with his quality and competitive spirit.”
Portugal coach Paulo Bento.
"If I had to pick one now, judging by how he plays and his excellent form, it would be Ribery. He is fast, flexible and has excellent ideas on the pitch. In football, you have to think and also have the technique to execute. Ribery has both.”
Jean-Marie Pfaff, Belgium goalkeeper at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups
“I think this year could be a little easier… Individually I’d find it very difficult to choose between the three that are always there, Messi, Cristiano and Ribery, so I’ll go for the one who has had success with his club. Messi and Ronaldo scoring 50 goals is spectacular, but being a key figure in the team that has won the treble is a little bit of a plus. That’s why Ribery is my number one favourite this year.”
Bernd Schuster, European champion in 1980, in an interview with FIFA.com.
“Ronaldo and Messi are still at a superior level. I don’t dare predict who will win it.”
Bayern Munich and Netherlands winger Arjen Robben.
“After his four-goal gala against Sweden everyone’s obviously talking about Cristiano Ronaldo again. But Franck Ribery is in unbelievable shape too. And yet again, Lionel Messi has scored countless goals this year. I think one thing is certain: Messi and Ronaldo are nowhere near as far ahead of the others compared to previous years. I’m very excited, so let’s see what happens."
Brazil-born Germany international Cacau, who played at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in conversation with FIFA.com
“If I had to choose one, it would be Lionel Messi, because he offers a class of spectacle that hasn’t been seen for a long time. People go to stadiums just to watch him! That makes him something very special.”
Gunter Netzer, World Cup winner with West Germany in 1974.
"Personally speaking, Ronaldo. The stuff he does sometimes is ridiculous. Messi is the same, but they’re very different players. He can play a winger, up front, he can play in the hole, he can play anywhere he wants and he still scores goals. Also, it’d be great to see Ronaldo win it this time after Messi has won it four years in a row." Popular Irish musician Shane Filan in an exclusive chat with FIFA.com.
“Honestly, all three deserve it. But if I had to choose, I’d say Messi… Even though Cristiano Ronaldo does fantastic things and is a great, great player, Messi, with the ball at his feet, can do unimaginable things.”
Javier Zanetti, who has played in two World Cups for Argentina, speaking to French newspaper L`Équipe.