Ronaldo is eager for more

Cristiano Ronaldo after winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or

Cristiano Ronaldo after winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or

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Cristiano Ronaldo already has his eye on more major honours after being crowned the world’s best player for the third time.

The 29-year-old saw off rivals Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer to win the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or at a ceremony in Zurich on Monday.

Ronaldo was rewarded for a year which saw him score 57 goals for club and country and win four trophies with Real Madrid.

But the Portugal forward stressed his ambitions remain much bigger than simply pipping his long-time nemesis Messi to the ultimate annual prize.

Ronaldo said: “I am extremely happy and proud to receive this award and I want to keep challenging myself every day.

“Of course this is something that is always with me. I want to become one of the greatest players of all time and this requires a lot of effort but I hope to get there.”

Ronaldo was a clear winner with 37.66 per cent of total votes cast by a panel made up of captains, coaches and media members from all FIFA affiliate associations. Messi took second with 15.76 per cent, just ahead of Neuer on 15.72.

Messi responded to continuing transfer rumours by stressing he would like to end his career at Barcelona – but conceded that outcome was far from certain.

Having denounced talk of a move to the Premier League as “lies” earlier this week, Messi added: “I’m not sure where I’m going to be next year.

“I’ve always said I would like to finish my career at Barcelona...nobody knows what the future holds, much less so in the case of the football world, where so many things can change overnight.”

That will put a host of English clubs on alert, particularly Manchester United.

The Red Devils are probably the only English club that could afford to buy Messi, for his £195m buyout fee and stay within Uefa’s financial fair play rules.

Real Madrid are the only club who appear able to rival United’s financial muscle but it seems unlikely Messi would join Barca’s fiercest rival.

United’s record £750m, 10-year kit deal with adidas starts next season, meaning the club can expect £75m a season from that 
one contract alone.