Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero backs Argentina teammate Lionel Messi to win FIFA’s Best Men’s Player award on Jan. 9 in Zurich.
Barcelona forward Messi, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann are on the three-man shortlist for the vote which will be made by football writers, fans and the coaches and captains of the national teams.
Messi is the “best in the world,” Aguero told FIFA.com.
“He’s ahead of the rest, including the other nominees,” he said in reference to Ronaldo and Griezmann. “And I’m not just saying that because he’s my friend. I train with him and I see it with my own eyes. He does things I don’t see anyone else doing. He’s the best there is.”
After six years during which the Ballon d’Or was awarded in conjunction with FIFA, replacing the governing body’s World Player of the Year prize, the list returned to its original roots this year. And the Ballon d’Or reverted to being an award from France Football.
Aguero singled out Messi’s ability to run with the ball at his feet and the ease with which he takes risk when running at full speed.
“He makes it look so easy. It’s incredible,” Aguero said.
In December, Ronaldo was named the Ballon d’Or winner for a fourth time, beating Messi and Griezmann.
Ronaldo, who previously won the award in 2008 as well as in 2013 and 2014, when it was officially the FIFA Ballon d’Or, is only the second player to win it a total of four times, trailing only Messi’s record of five.
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) January 5, 2017
Aguero told FIFA.com that he didn’t even know who Messi was when they first played together 11 years ago for Argentina on the under-20 team.
“We were having lunch with the national U20 team,” Aguero said. “Lionel was sitting next to me. All my teammates were talking about the boots he’d brought from the U.S., and I just couldn’t work out how he’d got hold of them. Who was this kid?”
Aguero, then 17, was playing for Independiente, but was not keeping track of La Liga football.
“I asked him his name and he said: ‘Lionel, Lionel Messi,’ but I had no idea who he was. I was just trying to work out how he’d managed to get those boots. Then one of my teammates said to me: ‘You don’t know who he is? It’s Messi, the kid from Barcelona.’ That’s when I realised who he was. I tell you one thing, though: he knew who I was!”