Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is the favourite to win the awardReuters

Former Barcelona captain Carles Puyol says it would be a "huge injustice" if Lionel Messi does not win the Ballon d'Or. The 28-year-old Argentine features on a three-man shortlist for the coveted award, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar, but Puyol thinks Messi ought to be handed the gong for the fifth time in his trophy-laden career.

Messi played an instrumental role in Barcelona's treble-winning season in 2015, and Puyol thinks his former team-mate deserves to win the award in Zurich.

"You never know what might end up happening, but it would be a surprise and a huge injustice if Messi was not to win the Ballon d'Or ," Puyol told Barcelona's official website.

Puyol doubts whether any player will ever be able to match Messi's career achievements. He also predicted the record-breaking attacker will continue to improve over the coming years. "It will be hard for any other player in the future to win five Ballon d'Ors, and Messi is not going to retire tomorrow so even if he wins [his fifth title] he can add even more to his name," he said.

Meanwhile, Puyol also backed his former club Barcelona to become the first side in the history of the Champions League to retain the trophy. "It is difficult, for sure, because you never know when you might have a bad day or injuries, but if any team can do it, it is this one," he said.

Barcelona currently sit second in La Liga, two points behind Atletico Madrid. The Catalan side face Arsenal in the last-16 stage of the Champions League on 23 February.