Muller: Hard to pick a Ballon d'Or winner

The Germany and Bayern attacker hopes his compatriot wins the award but admits Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo also had “outstanding” years

Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller believes it would be tough to pick between his team-mate Manuel Neuer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or.

The Germany goalkeeper has made the shortlist of three alongside the Real Madrid and Barcelona attackers, who have won the last six editions of the award between them.

Muller feels that each of the trio would be worthy winners of the prestigious prize in January and has hailed his club and international colleague’s exploits over the course of the year.

“It’s difficult to say who deserves it the most,” he said at a press conference.

“Manuel became a World Cup winner and had an outstanding year. Ronaldo also had an outstanding year – and Messi too.

“They are unbelievable individuals but I hope Manu wins the trophy.”

Muller went on to say that Neuer is a key component in his side’s defensive unit, which has shipped just three goals in 14 Bundesliga games this term.

“The coach and the defensive players have invested a lot of time in tactics. The discipline and the class are part of it obviously. And we have the upcoming Ballon d’Or winner in goal who does his bit!”

Bayern midfielder Sebastian Rode also claimed that Neuer is capable of winning the award ahead of Messi and Ronaldo.

“Manuel Neuer can absolutely win the Ballon d’Or. People say he won’t because no goalkeeper has won it but that’s not my opinion.”

Ronaldo should win Ballon d'Or with 99 per cent of the votes, says James

The Colombia international has little doubt his team-mate will win the award for a third time and says he has learned a lot under Carlo Ancelotti

Real Madrid star James Rodriguez believes Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer will not even come close to Cristiano Ronaldo in the Fifa Ballon d’Or vote.

The Portugal international dethroned Messi as the world’s best in 2013 and his team-mate has little doubt the prolific attacker will once more bring home the prestigious individual award this year after firing Madrid to Champions League glory.

“It is an award all players dream of, but the Ballon d’Or is Cristiano’s right now,” the Colombia international told Marca.

“He’ll win it again this year because he deserves it, simple as that. He should win with 99 per cent of votes. As our coach said, there is a huge gulf between Cristiano and all the rest right now.

“His quality speaks for itself. He works very hard to be what he is: the best in the world.”

The former Monaco man then went on to praise Carlo Ancelotti and underlined the Italian’s role in Madrid’s success.

“Ancelotti is a great coach and we talk often. He has taught me a lot these past few months. I’m working hard to keep learning from him.

“We are all really happy to be working with Carlo. He asks much more of everyone defensively speaking. That’s the key to Real’s current good form.

“The only way of achieving what we do is with humility. There’s no other way. Yes, it’s a very humble group.”

Rode: Joining Bayern was the right decision

The former Germany Under-21 international is happy with life at the Bundesliga champions so far following his summer move

Sebastian Rode has stressed that he does not have any regrets over his decision to leave Eintracht Franfurt for Bayern Munich.

Question marks where raised over whether the 24-year-old would get much playing time at the Allianz Arena given the competition for places from the likes of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Xabi Alonso.

However, Rode has already made 14 appearances in all competitions for Bayern and he is happy with the way things have gone for him so far.

“I know I did everything right by joining Bayern and I’ve already learned a huge amount from my team-mates and the coach,” Rode joined the official Bayern website.

“But I want more. I hope I’ll play more in the future and become a regular at some point.

“I arrived with plenty of respect but I soon settled in. Bayern are certainly a big step up compared to Eintracht. It’s been very positive.

“The coach has made it clear he values me from the very first day and the best evidence of that is the increasing amount of playing time I’m getting.”

Schweinsteiger: I’m still greedy for titles

Winning the World Cup has only made the Bayern Munich man’s appetite for success all the more insatiable

Bayern Munich star Bastian Schweinsteiger says is desperate for even more success, despite winning the World Cup with Germany during the summer.

The midfielder has spent much of this campaign on the sidelines due to injury but boasts a formidable collection of titles, including seven Bundesliga crowns and a Champions League title with the German champions.

And the 30-year-old has said there is still no relent in his hunger for silverware.

“With the world title, I’ve become even greedier,” he admitted to Focus. “I won’t be bored of winning for a long time.

“I now know how to win big titles and what it feels like to lift a trophy in the air. I want to have many more of these moments.

“I would even say that winning titles is addictive.”

Schweinsteiger confessed that previous heartbreak made the 1-0 World Cup final win over Argentina in Rio in July all the sweeter.

“In 2012, we were brutally punished in the Champions League final against Chelsea. I lay on the field with the national coach crying after we beat Argentina because I felt justice. And I want that feeling more. Much more.”

‘Schweini’ also admitted that he has tried to talk club-mate Philipp Lahm out of international retirement, but to no avail.

“Every day I tell him he should play for Germany again, but so far I’ve had no success.”

Now back to full fitness after knee issues, the new national team captain is on line for his eighth Bundesliga title as Bayern currently lead the division by a healthy seven-point margin.

Gotze's World Cup-winning boot raises €2 million for charity

Unwashed and still muddy, the Germany star’s left boot has sold at auction for a staggering amount which will be donated to ‘A Heart for Children’

The left boot of Mario Gotze, which won Germany their first World Cup in 24 years, has sold for a staggering €2 million at a charity auction.

Gotze’s left-footed volley flew past Sergio Romero in extra-time in Rio de Janiero in July as Joachim Low’s men claimed football’s greatest prize for the fourth time.

MOBBED | Gotze is surrounded by team-mates after his strike against Argentina
The boot, which has gone unwashed and unworn since that iconic moment in Brazil, raised the incredible €2m for German charity ‘A Heart for Children’ as bidders scrambled to own a true piece of footballing history.

“I have never washed the boot. It is still in the same condition as it was in Rio, when I left the stadium with it,” the Bayern Munich man told Bild.

TASTE OF VICTORY | Gotze with the trophy he won for Germany
“There is still grass on it. I have never put the boot on after the final. I kept it safe at my house.”

Treasurer of the charity Niko Knochenhauer added: “I would not have dreamed [this]. Two million Euros – that’s a huge amount. The good thing is that it is for a good cause… and not just for the shoe.”