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Mascherano: Messi deserves Ballon d'Or

The Argentina international has picked up the coveted award for the past three years and is tipped to collect a fourth consecutive crown.

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is also hoping to pick up the prestigious trophy, but Mascherano believes three of his Blaugrana team-mates are ahead of the Portugal captain in the running.

"Messi? We are talking about a player who scored more than 80 goals [for Barcelona and Argentina], that is crazy," said Mascherano.

"If I had to vote for the Ballon d'Or, I would give it to Messi, then Xavi and Andres Iniesta."

Mascherano admitted he is happy at Camp Nou and revealed he is close to signing a new deal with the club to extend his stay in Spain.

"Coming to Barca was the best decision I have made in my life because I have accomplished so many things here," the 28-year-old said.

"I hope that I will stay here for many years. If I sign a new contract, it will be until 2016, when I will be 32. My renewal is looking very good.

"If I feel fine, I would like to play some more years. But I am not thinking if I would like to retire at this club."

Barcelona have been linked with a move for Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez, a player that Mascherano believes would be a welcome addition to the Catalan giants.

"From what I have seen, he is a great player," said the former Liverpool star.

"He is going through the same thing that has happened to me: his coach has deployed him in a different position and he has been playing at a great level.

"He is an international for Spain and he has all the qualities to play at a big club like Athletic and Barca.

"No one has doubts about his quality and what he can give to a team."