Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano says Lionel Messi will not be too affected if he does not win the 2013 Ballon d'Or as he has plenty of other things in his life to enjoy.
Persistent injury issues look to have ended Messi’s chances of winning a fifth successive award, with the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo heavy tipped to take the prize after FIFA extended the voting period, and Franck Ribery now second favourite in the betting.
Mascherano told reporters that his teammate for club and country -- who earlier this month celebrated his baby son’s first birthday -- had plenty of other interests outside of football.
“Leo does not need the Ballon d'Or to be happy, he has too many other reasons in his life to be happy,” Mascherano said. “Life is not just about football, there are many other things and Leo can enjoy them. But I hope he does win it as he is my teammate and my friend.”
Asked if it was right that Ronaldo got the recognition this year as the Real Madrid attacker had caught up or even passed Messi as the world’s best player, Mascherano said he only knew that his Argentina compatriot was the greatest he had ever seen.
“I could not see [Diego] Maradona so, I can only say that Messi is the best player I have seen in my life,” he said. “I am not going to speak about justice or injustice. But Leo is the best. With the Ballon d'Or, I believe you do not need to just take into account the last month or month-and-a-half. The prize is given for the whole year.”
Mascherano also rejected a suggestion that too many games and too much travelling was the root cause of Messi’s five muscle injuries in six months during 2013.
“I do not know if Messi has played too much,” he said. “Fate has put him in this position and the best thing he can do is stay calm and get better. It happens to all of us.”