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After being named on the three-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or alongside alongside Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi of Barcelona, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo insists the award is not his priority.

Ronaldo’s candidacy for the prize has been a fraught and controversial affair, including a bust-up with FIFA president Sepp Blatter and an unexpected subsequent decision to extend the voting deadline.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Zurich on January 13, but Ronaldo is yet to confirm whether he will attend the event.

“It’s not the most important thing in a career,” said Ronaldo, who has already won the award in 2008 after helping Manchester United to the Champions League crown.

Although the Madrid ace attempted to avoid being discourteous by acknowledging the significance of the trophy, he was in no mood to overstate his desire to win.

“It’s a trophy they have been doing for many years and it’s important for many players. I understand that,” he added.

“But it’s just an individual trophy. It’s better to have a fantastic career and do good things with your clubs. It’s only one more trophy – it’s not the end of the world.”

Predictably, Ronaldo’s bid for the award has been backed by his club and international team-mate Pepe, who rejected suggestions French winger Ribery is more deserving having won a treble with Bayern.

The defender said: “Only Ronaldo deserves to win. He has had a splendid year and there are many examples of players who have won the award without winning titles.”

Ronaldo is set to return to action for tonight as Madrid conclude their Champions League group campaign with a trip to Denmark to take on FC Copenhagen.

He has been out for a fortnight with a minor thigh strain, but manager Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed he will play the strongest possible team even though the group has already been won.

And the forward will have the opportunity to break the Champions League record for goals scored in a group stage.

The eight he has already scored this season has equalled a mark held by Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Filippo Inzaghi, Hernan Crespo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who will also have the chance to break the record tonight when Paris Saint-Germain travel to Benfica.

 

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