MADRID (AFP) - Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino has insisted that in his opinion Lionel Messi remains the best player in the world despite Cristiano Ronaldo being awarded the Ballon d'Or on Monday.
Messi missed a large chunk of 2013 due to muscle injuries, but still only missed out on football's highest individual accolade by little more than two percent in the voting to the Portuguese.
And whilst Martino congratulated Ronaldo on winning the prize for a second time, he backed Messi to bounce back in 2014.
"We have to congratulate Cristiano Ronaldo and all of those who won a prize," he said ahead of Barca's Copa del Rey last 16, second-leg tie against Getafe on Thursday.
"It is one thing to be the player rewarded for one year and another to be the best and we have the best." Messi has made two substitute appearances in the past week on his return from two months out with a torn hamstring and all but put the tie against Getafe to bed with two late goals to give the Catalans a commanding 4-0 advantage going into the second-leg.
However, despite Barca's advantage, Martino hinted that his compatriot could start for the first time this year at the Alfonso Perez Coliseum on Thursday.
"Obviously he has come on in the second-half of the last two games and looked good.
"Tomorrow is a good chance for Leo to continue getting minutes on the field and we need to see if it is convenient to start him or bring him on in the second-half again." Andres Iniesta has been left out of the squad to travel to Madrid due to the knock to the knee he picked up in the 0-0 draw away to Atletico Madrid on Saturday, whilst Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba are rested.