Madrid: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says his teammate Lionel Messi deserves to win the Ballon d'Or, saying the Argentine forward has helped turn the Spanish club into "one of the best in history".
Messi, 24, will find out on Monday if he has become the first man since Michel Platini to win the Ballon d'Or for three years running when the winner of the 2011 award is announced at a ceremony in Zurich.
"It is clear, Messi, he has been playing at a high level for years. And Leo is the best in the world," Pique said in an interview published in Catalan daily La Vanguarida on Sunday when asked who deserved to win the prize.
"He is driving this team to be one of the best in history. thanks to him we have won many of the titles that we have in our windows.
"It is a pleasure to have him with us, he plays like when he was 13 years old, except now he does it in a professional way and before the best players. We just have to hope that he maintain this level for as long as possible."
Messi won the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or - a combination of the France Football Ballon d'Or prize and FIFA's World Player of the Year award - last year, having picked up both awards in 2009.
The Barcelona superstar's rivals for the honour are his Barcelona teammate Xavi and his great Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the Ballon d'Or in 2008.