Real Madrid centre-back Pepe believes Cristiano Ronaldo is the obvious choice to win the Ballon d'Or and should be awarded the prize in January.

The Portuguese was named on the final three-man shortlist for the gong on Monday, alongside Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi, with the winner set to be announced in Zurich on January 13.

Ronaldo was also one of 15 forwards nominated for the Fifpro World XI and Pepe has thrown his weight behind his team-mate's bid to be crowned the best player in the world.

He told reporters at a press conference: "Cristiano is the only player who deserves the Ballon d'Or because it's an individual prize. He is having a great season and a great year.

"It's the most important thing. Spain won the World Cup four years ago and no Spanish player won the Ballon d'Or. Hopefully he continues helping us as he usually does.

"Ronaldo always is happy for staying with us again. I hope everything goes well. We want him to help Real Madrid and achieve his own personal marks this year."

Pepe was linked with a move to Manchester City over the summer, but the 30-year-old insists that talk of his possible departure were completely untrue.

"I never thought about leaving Real Madrid. The club loves me, and I'm happy and I like Madrid," he added.

Madrid are currently preparing for their final Champions League group stage clash away to FC Copenhagen, having already secured their place in the knockout stages of the competition with 13 points from five games.

Copyright © 2009 Goal.com All rights reserved. Provided by Syndigate.info, an Albawaba.com company