Cristiano Ronaldo on Ballon d’Or: “I deserve to win it every year”

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The waiting is almost over, as the FIFA World Player of the Year will be announced on January 13 in Zurich.

But that’s a few weeks away yet, so it’s time for the three finalists to get a final statement out there as to why they deserve the trophy. So that’s exactly what Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has done.

Ronaldo, 28, has been runner up to Lionel Messi the past two years and those two giants are joined by Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery as the current best three players in the world. Ronaldo has scored 34 goals in 25 appearances this season and given Messi’s long-term injury, the Portuguese star certainly deserved to come out on top this time.

Let’s see if Cristiano agrees with that assessment.

“Do I deserve to win it? Maybe I deserved to win it last year or the year before,” Ronaldo told Spanish magazine A Bola. “I think I deserve to win the Ballon d’Or every year. I like winning everything, but I know that it doesn’t depend on me. I’d like to win it, but sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, that’s just life.”

Ronaldo then continued to rattle off his achievements over the past few years, to give his heady claims a little more weight. Come on Cristiano, we all know you’re an incredibly talented players and the favorite in many eyes to lift the coveted World Player of the Year this season. His form this season has been stunning and heading into World Cup 2014, Ronaldo could take the tournament by storm when Portugal face Germany, Ghana and the USA during the group stages.

But just in case here’s another reminder, from the man himself, of just how good he is.

“I don’t know if I deserve to win it this year,” Ronaldo said. “I’ve been in the top three for the last six years and in the FIFApro Team of the Year for the last seven or eight, so I really have nothing more to add. My numbers speak for themselves. What I’ve achieved, in some way, is key to winning individual awards.”

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.