BARCELONA - Barcelona president Sandro Rosell believes Lionel Messi deserves to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or and says only "political pressure" will deny the Argentine a fifth straight success.
The 26-year-old attacker is one of 23 players in the running to claim the award, along with rumored frontrunners Cristiano Ronaldo, of Real Madrid, and Franck Ribery from Bayern Munich.
The award has already caused controversy, with Ronaldo apparently set to boycott the ceremony in protest at comments FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently made about the Portuguese, but Rosell said the only outrage would be if Messi did not triumph again.
"First Leo, second Leo and third Leo," the Barca chief joked after the attacker picked up his Golden Shoe in the Catalan capital at an event Wednesday.
"Then Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and in sixth, [Sergio] Busquets," he said. "As long as people (the voters) take no notice of political or media pressure, the Ballon d'Or will be for Messi."
However, Barca legend Hristo Stoichkov believes lobbying from UEFA president Michel Platini will see the Frenchman's compatriot Ribery walk away with the prestigious prize in January.
"The Ballon d'Or disgusts me," the Bulgarian great said shortly after presending the Golden Shoe to Messi. "Platini moves well: Ribery is French and he has won a lot of titles [this year]."