Ronaldo clearly deserves Ballon d’Or, claims Valencia coach Nuno

The Portugal captain has been awarded the prize twice, in 2008 and 2013, and is the favourite to win it again this year

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo should win the Fifa Ballon d’Or for the second year running, according to Valencia coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

The Portugal captain claimed the coveted prize in 2013 to end Lionel Messi’s four-year reign as world player of the year.

Both players are on the 23-man shortlist for the 2014 award and it is expected to be a straight shootout between the two, despite Uefa president Michel Platini suggesting it should go to a member of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad.

Messi set a new La Liga record of 253 goals last week, but as Valencia prepare to face his Barcelona side on Sunday, Nuno said of his compatriot: “Cristiano clearly deserves to win the Ballon d’Or.”

The former Manchester United star has scored 26 goals in 20 games this season and although Ronaldo was not on the scoresheet in Saturday’s 2-1 win against Malaga he provided the assists for Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

Ronaldo, who also won the Ballon d’Or in 2008, set a new La Liga record by becoming the first player to score against every team he has played against in Spain’s top flight when he found the back of the net against Eibar last weekend.

Saturday’s win over Malaga moved Liga-leaders Real Madrid five points clear of second-placed Barcelona and Nuno is determined to ensure his Valencia side prevent them from closing the gap.

He said: “Our ambition is to win every game regardless of the opponent. Tomorrow we have a tough game against a great opponent, but we’ll go out to win.”