Cristiano Ronaldo is a more deserving winner of the 2012 Ballon d'Or than Lionel Messi, Jose Mourinho claimed today.
The Real Madrid manager's comments about his star player were made in response to Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova who said last weekend that Messi was "the best (player) in the world by a long way".
Messi has won football's top honour for the last three years running, but following a disappointing season by Barcelona's standards in which they relinquished their La Liga and Champions League titles, winning only won the Kings Cup, there is a growing argument that Ronaldo should win this year's award
"When someone with the same responsibility as me comes out and says: 'Mine is the best on the planet' then I have to say: mine was not born in Madeira, he was born on Mars; he is not from planet Earth, he is the best in the universe," Mourinho told Portuguese daily A Bola in an interview.
"If Messi is the best on the planet, Ronaldo is the best in the universe. It would be a crime if Ronaldo did not win the Ballon d'Or."
Last year Real Madrid won La Liga for the first time in four years, with Ronaldo's 46 league goals instrumental in ending Barcelona's run of three straight league titles.
"How can you win the Ballon d'Or without collecting titles, without winning anything important? Don't come to me telling me about the Intercontinental Cup or the Supercup, this is small stuff. Tell me about fat titles," Mourinho said.
Ronaldo has continued his rich reign of form this season, scoring two hat-tricks already this term and becoming the first player to score in six consecutive el Clasico's when he put two past Barcelona in the 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp on Sunday.
Mourinho also argued that Ronaldo has had a tougher career than his great rival who comes from a privileged background in his native Argentina and joined Barcelona at the age of 13.
"It is harder to be Cristiano than Messi. Messi grew up in the team where he plays, with the players with whom he plays. Not Cristiano. He was in England, then they put him here in a losing team. He had to grow over the last two years with this team which has been forming," Mourinho said.
"One (Messi) plays as a (number) 9 and roams around in those 50 square metres where the distance to goal is smaller and defence less intense."
"The other (Ronaldo) plays as a winger. How does a winger score as many goals as a number 9? Besides, Ronaldo is a player who is not protected by anyone."
The winner of the Ballon d'Or will be announced on January 7th.