Zinedine Zidane has said he would choose his former France international teammate Franck Ribery over his current Real Madrid charge Cristiano Ronaldo if he were picking the 2013 Ballon d’Or winner.
Ribery is hotly tipped to take the prize given his key role in Bayern Munich’s Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal triumphs last season and his impressive performances under new coach Pep Guardiola this term.
However, Ronaldo is likely to also figure heavily in the judges’ thinking thanks to his huge goal tally this year -- and Madrid figures including Florentino Perez and Jose Mourinho have found that the Portuguese captain expects strong club backing when individual awards are being decided.
This puts current Blancos assistant coach Zidane in an awkward situation, and he told RMC he was just about leaning towards his fellow Frenchman.
“They both deserve it,” he said. “But I would give it to Franck because he was fundamental in the three trophies that Bayern won last season. The problem is there is a kid who has scored 55 goals in a season. Anyway, I do not decide.”
This year’s award will be as closely contested as ever, with even the shortlists likely to generate controversy.
Holder and four-time winner Lionel Messi is also expected to be in the running again, while his new Barcelona teammate Neymar also has a strong case for inclusion after his impressive displays as Brazil won the summer's Confederations Cup.
A 23-man longlist is expected to be announced by France Football on October 29, with a three-man shortlist revealed in early December and the prize awarded at a gala ceremony in Zurich on January 13.