Xabi Alonso says former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player he has ever played with.
The midfielder spent five years playing alongside the Portugal international at the Santiago Bernabeu before leaving for Bayern Munich this summer, meaning Alonso can now count several members of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad as colleagues.
Consequently, when it comes to picking a deserving winner for this year’s Ballon d’Or, the 32-year-old is somewhat torn.
However, Alonso is edging towards titleholder Ronaldo, admitting that he has never come across a more talented individual.
“I said recently if Manuel Neuer or another German player won the Ballon d’Or, it would be fair as they won the World Cup,” the former Liverpool ace told the Daily Mail.
“But if Ronaldo wins it again, it would also be fair for the season he had, winning the Champions League.
“He is the best player I have played with.”
Meanwhile, Alonso admitted that he had expected to extend his stay at the Bernabeu until he learned that Pep Guardiola wanted him at the Allianz Arena.
“My idea was to stay in Madrid,” he explained. “Then, when I heard of Munich’s interest I said ‘Xabi, think what you want and where you will be happy.’
“I had been at Madrid for five years. We had won the 10th European Cup, we had been chasing it for a long time and it felt like the business was done.
“It was either a case of continuing for a few more years in Madrid or trying something different.
“Having experienced La Liga and the Premier League, it was a great chance to come here.
“The Bundesliga is getting better and this is one of the top clubs in the world.
“I needed a fresh start somewhere. This might be my last experience in football.
“I came from my hometown team, Real Sociedad, to the best team in England, to the best team in Spain, to the best team in Germany.
“It is a beautiful career. I wanted a nice football script.”