Cristiano Ronaldo names his rivals for Ballon d'Or title

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has taken time to name his Ballon d'Or rivals this year although he is a strong favourite to clinch the accolade.

The Portugal has won the honour on four previous occasions, and he is the favourite to clinch another title following his La Liga and Champions League double with Los Blancos. Ronaldo looked to be off the pace during the initial stages of the previous campaign but he still finished with 42 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid, who became the first team to win two consecutive Champions League crowns.

Speaking to ESPN, the 32-year-old named his competitors for this year's title, and there were a couple of surprises with Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain and Bayern Munich's Lewandowski on his list, he said: “Of course it is always going to be a fight between us. I’m there along with [Lionel] Messi, Neymar, [Robert] Lewandowski and [Gonzalo] Higuain. That kind of fighting and competition is healthy and that is what motivates me, being better than them year after year. The best always try to compete with the best, it keeps you sharp. You know you can never lose focus because others will overtake you."

Ronaldo had been the subject of tax fraud accusations by Spanish authorities earlier last month, and this led to suggestions that he could push for a move elsewhere during the summer transfer window. However, manager Zinedine Zidane has assured that the forward will stay put with the Bernabeu giants following talks between him and the club's hierarchy. The Euro 2016 winner is currently on an extended break following his excursions for Portugal at the Confederations Cup, but he is expected to make the first-team squad prior to the start of new La Liga campaign. Ronaldo and Messi has won the last nine Ballon d'Or crowns, and this feat looks set to extend for at least another year.