The Juventus captain feels that while both the Frenchman and the Portuguese have had better years, the Argentine is still the greatest talent on the planet
Gianluigi Buffon believes Franck Ribery will pip Cristiano Ronaldo to this year's Ballon d'Or but claims thatLionel Messi remains by far and away the best player in the world.
The trio have been shortlisted for the prestigious individual accolade, which will be presented at a special ceremony in Zurich on January 13.
Buffon goes along with the common consensus that the award will either go to Ribery, a treble winner with Bayern Munich, or Ronaldo, who hit 69 goals for Real Madrid this year, particularly in light of Messi's injury-interrupted 2013.
However, the Italy international still feels that whatever the outcome of the vote, the Argentine is still the most talented footballer in the game today.
"I believe that the victories affect a lot," Buffon mused in an interview with Sportmasta. "So, in this sense, it would advantage Ribery, who as well as having won titles, was also decisive in many Bayern victories. He's a great champion.
"At the moment, however, I think that Cristiano Ronaldo has something more than the others - even if the strongest by far remains Messi."
Meanwhile, Buffon insists that while he was bitterly disappointed by Juventus' shock elimination in the group stages of this season's Champions League after a controversial 1-0 loss to Galatasaray on the final matchday, he still believes that the Italian champions are moving in the right direction.
"At the end of the day, in more than 100 years of history, Juve have won two European Cups - not 25," the veteran shot-stopper pointed out. "Sometimes you have to have good fortune at the right time.
"But, for me, the road that we have taken leaves me very hopeful for the future."