Real Madrid have hit out at UEFA president Michel Platini for suggesting the Ballon d’Or should be awarded to a World Cup winner this year rather than Argentina international Lionel Messi and former Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
Los Merengues admitted their ‘surprise’ that the Frenchman made his personal views public before saying the award should be based on individual merit.
Although six Germany players have been named in the 23-man shortlist, Ronaldo is still favourite to retain the honour after helping Madrid to a 10th European title last season.
The 29-year-old has scored 48 goals in 45 matches in all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti’s side this year although his World Cup group stage exit with Portugal may count against him if Platini’s comments are echoed by voters.
Four-time former winner Lionel Messi is also well in contention after another prolific season for Barcelona which has seen him add another title to his long list of accolades, having surpassed Raul’s record of 71 Champions League goals.
The Ballon d’Or will be announced on 12 January in Zurich.