Sergio Ramos has labelled Cristiano Ronaldo the best player in the world by claiming Ballon d'Or rival Lionel Messi is a "step below him right now."
The attacking duo are frontrunners alongside Franck Ribery to win this year's edition of the prestigious award, though Messi has fallen behind after suffering another injury setback last week.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti demanded that Ronaldo receives due recognition for his 2013 achievements, and now Ramos has tipped his club-mate to reclaim the award after last winning it in 2008.
"Perhaps this year he [Ronaldo] is showing that [he should win the Ballon d'Or], since the player normally seen as the best in the world, Messi, is maybe a step below him right now," the Spain international noted to Movistar.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter caused a furor earlier this autumn when he made comments suggesting he saw Messi as the better player, prompting Ramos to stress the importance of impartiality.
"You have to give the Ballon d’Or to the best player in the world at that time," he continued.
"Any differences between what the players are like as individuals should not affect who is chosen for a personal award."
Despite failing to win any silverware this calender year, Ronaldo has notched up an impressive 63 goals for club and country to stake his claim for the prize.
His latest strike, the winner for Portugal in the first leg of a World Cup playoff against Sweden, gives Paulo Bento's men a crucial advantage before Tuesday's return match.
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