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Lionel Messi already deserves to lift a sixth Ballon d’Or regardless of whether he wins the Champions League with Barcelona or not, according to former Brazil striker Rivaldo.
Messi’s Blaugrana side remain in European competition after seeing off Manchester United and are currently on course to secure another La Liga title, while a Copa del Rey final against Valencia also lies in wait.
The free-scoring Argentine would undoubtedly be amongst the favourites to lift football’s greatest individual honour if he does finish the season with silverware, but Rivaldo feels that Messi is already worthy of the accolade.
“It’s impossible to describe Messi,” the former FIFA World Player of the Year told Goal. “I like him so much and I always say I feel so sad because he never won the World Cup with Argentina. It is an award he deserves because a world-class player like him must be a world champion.
“He has been scoring goals, giving assists and being the top scorer in La Liga for a long time and I think what he has been doing in the Champions League means his merits should be recognised.
“He had a chance to score a bicycle kick [versus Man Utd] but it’s not an easy one to take because you don’t get those chances often in games. It was a good effort but it didn’t quite come off.
“Even if he doesn’t win the Champions League, however, he already deserves the Ballon d’Or.”
Two fellow countrymen of Rivaldo are talked about a lot in the same breath as Barcelona: Philippe Coutinho and Neymar. And while the former appears to be finding his feet at Camp Nou following a rocky start, the 46-year-old feels the latter made a mistake in moving to Paris Saint-Germain.
“Coutinho is a great player and I am sure he will stay at Barca for a long time. He scored a great goal [against Man Utd] and I think he will stay and be a success. He must be calm because he will be an idol for the fans sooner or later.
“[On Neymar], I have said many times that I think he was wrong [to leave], but everyone is free to make their own decisions. He is still only 27 years old and, who knows, he could come back to Barca. They would probably love to have him back.”