Former Real Madrid star Roberto Carlos backs Ronaldo for Ballon d'Or

Roberto Carlos believes Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to win the Ballon d'Or for a second successive year.

Ronaldo won the prestigious award for the first time last January and the Portugal captain is in the running to take the gong once again after being named on a three-man shortlist for 2014.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who had won the Ballon d'Or three years in a row before being dethroned by Ronaldo, and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer are also in contention to receive the prize at a glittering ceremony in Zurich on January 12.

Former Brazil and Real left-back Carlos - who left his role as head coach of Turkish club Sivasspor last week - feels Ronaldo has done enough to be crowned the best player in the world once again following another stellar year.

"I am a big fan of Lionel Messi, but Cristiano Ronaldo has been more impressive," he told Perform.

"He is living an incredible momentum. Everything he does goes right. He is a leader. I am not saying that because he is a Real Madrid player. This is not the point here.

"Messi is incredible and his history in football is marvellous. But we have to choose the best player in the season and that was Cristiano Ronaldo."

Carlos also believes that Brazil and Barcelona forward Neymar should have been on the final shortlist rather than Neuer, despite the Germany keeper's outstanding performances for club and country in a year in which he became a World Cup winner.

Carlos added: "Neymar… he is phenomenon, this boy. He got adapted to the European football very quick. He delivered great performances with Barca and Selecao.

"The thing is Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are getting better every day. Neymar is trying to reach their level but every time he comes close they just get better.

"We all know that it's really hard to give the Ballon d’Or to a goalkeeper or even a defender. Maybe (Fabio) Cannavaro and (Paolo) Maldini were the only exceptions. 

"So in my opinion the three best players in the world this season were Cristiano, Messi and Neymar."