David Villa has insisted Lionel Messi should win The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016 award and reiterated that he has not given up on a Spain recall. The Argentina No10 is among the final three nominees – the others are Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo – hoping to be crowned at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ ceremony in Zurich on 9 January 2017.

Villa played alongside Messi in the Barcelona attack for three years until he joined Atletico Madrid in 2013. Despite now representing New York City, the 35-year-old keeps a close eye on the exploits of his former team-mate and Ronaldo, and is in no doubt which one has had the better year.

“Messi, he's the best,” said Villa. “The reason is simple: because he’s the best.”

Genes and dreams
Villa retired from international football after making it 59 goals in 97 internationals – courtesy of a breathtaking flick – in Spain’s 3-0 win over Australia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, but recently admitted he would “jump on the first flight back to play for the national team”.

Julen Lopetegui flirted with the idea of recalling La Roja’s all-time leading marksman for November’s Russia 2018 qualifier against FYR Macedonia and the friendly against England. Although the 50-year-old elected against it – Aritz Aduriz, Iago Aspas, Alvaro Morata, Nolito and Lucas Vazquez were the forwards who made the squad, from which Diego Costa withdrew due to injury – he has repeatedly stressed that the door is open to Villa.

“I try my best to keep as fit as possible,” said the recent recipient of the MLS MVP award. “I know I'm old now and can’t play as many games as before. I try to eat and recover well. Maybe my parents gave me good genes. I feel well – very well.

“It's nice to hear so many fans ask me about national team. However, I think it's difficult. Spain already have quality forwards. I have not given up all hope yet though.”

Villa also rejected claims Spain underperformed at the 2014 World Cup and this year’s UEFA EURO due to a lack of firepower. “I disagree,” he stated. “Spain struggled at the World Cup because it is difficult tournament. We've only won it once in 100 years.”

Spain top Group G in Russia 2018 qualifying, above Italy on goal difference and Israel by a point. Spain resume their campaign at home to Israel in March.