Messi: Ronaldo ‘true deserver’ of nomination

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Barcelona's Lionel Messi would liked to have seen team-mate Luis Suarez make the Ballon d'Or three-man shortlist, but admits his long-time rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is deserving of his nomination.

Ronaldo, who has claimed the prestigious award for the last two years, will be hoping to make it three on the bounce by adding the 2015 trophy to his collection.

He will have to fend the challenge of Barca duo Messi and Neymar, who both have a strong claim for the title after winning the treble last season.

However, Messi expressed his disappointment at not being able to share the stage with Suarez at the awards gala.

"I am happy for once again having been selected among the three finalists," Messi said. "To be able to assist to another gala. I am happy I will be there with Neymar.

"I also would have like to share the event with Luis because he also deserved to be there following his great performance during last season.

"But we must also accept the fact that Cristiano is a true deserver of the nomination. So we will go to enjoy the moment like we did every time we went there."