Iniesta backs Messi to regain Ballon d'Or


Andres Iniesta has backed Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi to start 2016 in the best possible way by lifting the Ballon d'Or trophy.

The Argentina star, who was awarded the UEFA Best Player award earlier this year, is the current favourite to secure his fifth global individual prize ahead of fellow nominees Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Given Messi's remarkable 2015, in which he inspired Barca to five major trophies and reached the Copa America final with Argentina, Iniesta is confident he has done enough to clinch the award in Zurich on January 11.

"He has a great chance of regaining the Ballon d'Or, for what he is as a player and for what he does," he told Barca TV.

Luis Enrique's side set a new record of 180 goals in a calendar year following Wednesday's 4-0 win over Real Betis but Iniesta insists striving for more titles is paramount for the European champions.

"It's something secondary in terms of importance," he said of the goal tally. "What mattered was to win. But they're figures that we've passed and we'll try to keep them there for a long time.

"It's really hard to win these titles. To win five out of six is something which doesn't happen often. Hopefully next year will be the same or better than this one.

"I'll take every title, I was able to lift the Club World Cup as captain and that was the icing on the cake.

"To finish the year in this way is a good feeling, and in three days we start again with a very special game [against Espanyol]."