Former Real Madrid stars Ronaldo and Luis Figo have both backed Cristiano Ronaldo to win the 2016 Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo established himself as the favourite to win a fourth career Ballon d’Or when he won the Champions League with Madrid and Euro 2016 with Portugal, but his below-par start to the 2016-17 campaign could hinder his hopes.
Speaking on his induction into the FIFA-recognised World Football Hall of Fame in Mexico, former Brazil international Ronaldo told Marca that — based on trophies — the Madrid star deserved to take the award ahead of Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
“It is difficult for me to choose one or the other because I don’t like to be unfair to either Messi or Ronaldo,” he said. “But if I have to choose this year, for the trophies won, I believe Cristiano deserves it more.”
The Brazilian said the 31-year-old’s seven goals in 12 games for Madrid, and five goals in two World Cup qualifiers for Portugal, were “impressive” numbers and predicted that his namesake would see out the new five-year contract signed this week and finish his career in a Blancos shirt.
“I don’t believe [Cristiano] is going through a bad time,” Ronaldo said. “His numbers remain impressive, only equalled by Messi and a few more. Maybe he has dropped a tiny bit in some moments, but he is still a leader and still scoring goals. It is for him to retire in a Blancos shirt and then remain working for the club.”
Speaking on Spanish radio show “El Partidazo,” Figo said he was convinced that his compatriot would see off the competition.
“Cristiano is going to win the Ballon d’Or,” Figo said. “I believe there is no doubt about that. It is normal.”
Figo also said that Ronaldo’s previous performances had generated such expectations that critics now overreacted whenever he fails to score a hat trick.
“Cristiano is always good. What happens is that you cannot always score three goals each game,” he said. “I think he is in good form. If you analyse his performance by goals, or by his play, I don’t know, but Cristiano is a fundamental player. What happens is that if he does not score one, two or three goals, it seems he is playing badly.”
Ronaldo has appeared to snatch at chances and show frustration in recent games, but Figo said he did not believe there was anything for his former teammate to get worried about.
“I don’t believe Cristiano is anxious,” he said. “A forward will always have streaks, but a player with Cristiano’s quality has no reason to get nervous.”
Ronaldo and Messi are the leading contenders for both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s The Best award, although Atletico Madrid and France forward Antoine Griezmann is another potential candidate.