The legendary former Juventus forward praised the Portuguese forward and Lionel Messi, but suspects the Bayern shot-stopper will be voted the best player of 2014
Alessandro Del Piero believes that Cristiano Ronaldo represents the future of football, but has backed World Cup winner Manuel Neuer for the Fifa Ballon d’Or on Monday.
The Real Madrid forward has won the accolade twice, and is the holder after ending Lionel Messi’s streak of four consecutive triumphs, but Neuer starred as Germany romped to World Cup success last year and was brilliant for Bayern Munich in 2014.
Although he heavily praised Ronaldo for being a 21st century footballer and Messi for being such an incredible playmaker, the Juventus and Italy legend has tentatively stated that Neuer will go home with the gong on January 12.
“The three Ballon d’Or finalists are the best of the bunch, no question,” Del Piero told Fifa.com. “Cristiano Ronaldo’s personal stats are truly impressive. A lot has been said about the concept of ‘the modern player’, well this guy is not just modern but also of the future.
“Messi, for his part, is the real deal when it comes to No10s. I remember during the World Cup in Brazil seeing countless kids wearing his jersey – even Brazilian youngsters wearing the shirt of an Argentine! He represents a type of football that transcends borders.
“As for Manuel Neuer, he’s given us a new way of interpreting the role of a goalkeeper: not only is he very good with his feet, he also brings more mobility to his team. On top of that, he’s obviously a superb shot-stopper and Germany’s world title owed a lot to him.
“I’ll chance a prediction and say the winner will be Neuer. He was integral to Germany’s great World Cup and to a wonderful season for Bayern in the Bundesliga.
“The situation is a bit like we had in 2006, when Gigi Buffon narrowly missed out on winning the Ballon d’Or to team-mate and fellow world champion Fabio Cannavaro.”