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Wed Apr 23 21:52:33 SAST 2014

Messi seals it - 4th title in the bag

Jan 7, 2013 | Sapa-AFP |   53 comments

ZURICH - Record-breaking Lionel Messi is poised to become the first player to win four successive Ballon d'Or awards today, sealing his status as the greatest player of his generation.

GOLDEN BOY: Lionel Messi of Barcelona fights for the ball during the La Liga game between Real Valladolid and FC Barcelona. Photo: Getty Images

The 25-year-old is the overwhelming favourite to see off the challenge of Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta and great Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the prize.

It will crown another landmark year for the Argentine who is the top scorer in La Liga this season with 25 goals having also broken Gerd Mueller's 40-year record for the most goals in a calendar year.

He finished 2012 with an astonishing 91 goals in all competitions.

But Messi has insisted that his scoring records will mean nothing if Barcelona do not go on to take La Liga title off Real or fail to win the Champions League.

"It's nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important. My goals are to win titles with the team, the Spanish league, Spanish Cup or Champions League is more important than any personal records."

He remains just as modest when it comes to today's awards in Zurich.

"If Iniesta wins, it will be well-deserved for all that he has done, for the way he plays. Again, it will also be a prize for the dressing room."

Messi and former French star, Uefa president Michel Platini, are the only players to win three straight Ballon d'Or awards.

Barca coach Tito Vilanova has no doubt that Messi will be a deserving winner.

"Leo's great quality is that he plays as if he still a child," said Vilanova.

Portugal captain Ronaldo admits he would love to win but it would not be the end of the world if the prize went elsewhere.

"If I win, perfect. If I don't, never mind, life goes on. But obviously I'd love to win. I'm not going to lie or be hypocritical," said the 2008 Ballon d'Or winner added.

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