Messi backs team-mates for Ballon d'Or
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Lionel Messi has backed either of his Barcelona team-mates Andres Iniesta or Xavi Hernandez to beat him to the FIFA Ballon d'Or this year.

Messi does not expect to retain the title he won last year due to a disappointing FIFA World Cup™, but expects a Barça team-mate to win with Carles Puyol, Daniel Alves and David Villa also nominated.

"I want the winner of the Ballon d'Or to be someone in our locker room," Messi told France Football.

Asked who he thought was favourite, he replied: "Xavi and Iniesta, who scored in the final. He was the best player in the tournament, even though Diego Forlan was chosen.

"I think the World Cup will have a lot of weight on the final decision."

Xavi's candidacy is also getting support from a more surprising location - Real Madrid - where Xabi Alonso wants his international midfield partner to collect the award, even ahead of team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

"If you look at what he did on the pitch, it was spectacular," Alonso told DT magazine.